‘Taking the leap’: New Nevada City Elixart location will open in 2 months | TheUnion.com
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‘Taking the leap’: New Nevada City Elixart location will open in 2 months

Elixart partners Judy Merrick, from left, brother Colter Merrick, and Brett Bold stand where it all started at their Nevada City herbal lounge within the New York Hotel. Elixart will be moving to the site of the former New Moon Cafe around the corner on York Street.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Nevada City location of Elixart celebrated its final night Wednesday during Nevada City’s Summer Night festivities.

Today, Colter Merrick, who has owned and operated the Broad Street location since 2012, will begin moving the tools used to mix potent, plant-based elixirs to the lounge’s new location one block away on Spring Street.

Over the last year, Merrick opened a new location in Grass Valley, a retail space he hopes regulars will frequent in the two-month interim before the new Nevada City Elixart opens one block north of its birthplace.



The move, albeit small, signifies a deepening of Elixart’s roots in Nevada City.

“Taking the leap to enter a 30-year mortgage with the (New Moon) location, owning the building as opposed to being a tenant, having complete agency over the creative part of what we do and the costs associated — the ability to have permanence is very exciting,” Merrick said, adding that he intends to use both the inside and outside of the building to continue hosting events.



Elixart owner Colter Merrick prepares a kava drink within the Broad Street herbal lounge Wednesday, the final day open at this location before making the move to 203 York St.
Photo: Elias Funez

Merrick said the permanence is important to him and the community as it faces inward and outward.

“We see the New Moon spot as a flagship location,” Merrick said, adding that he and his business partner are approached constantly by entrepreneurs interested in starting an elixir bar in other, bigger cities like San Francisco. “Because we pioneered the model of this alcohol-free event space, it is a beacon for the model.”

Merrick said understanding plant medicine and familiarity with the evolving social landscape of legal cannabis makes him a viable resource and business partner as the concept of consumption lounges becomes more mainstream.

Judy Merrick, Colter Merrick’s sister and coworker, said the conversations that take place over kava in her cafe look significantly different than those taking place at a traditional, alcohol-serving bar.

“It’s very refreshing to come from a scene in New York where people are completely wrapped up in the bar scene,” Judy Merrick said. “How the night ends at an elixir bar – sharing your passion, your art, your music, your recent plant medicine journey — that creates a connection that is not forgotten the next morning.”

Judy Merrick said she is moved by the connections created over kava as opposed to a shot of tequila.

CONNECTION

Colter Merrick said he is grateful to host events and reconnect with his personal and professional mission since the pandemic’s tiered restrictions lifted June 15. The need for a supportive community space only grew over the last 16 months, Colter Merrick said, but legal operating restrictions limited the business’ normal outreach.

“Tensions were high and the desire for connection was so strong,” Colter Merrick said, adding that although the period of limited capacity was painful, Elixart took a more hardline approach to the COVID-19 response than some other businesses.

Judy Merrick said the creative energy and movement some associate with and attribute to the lounge is self-propagating.

To the Merricks and employee Indigo Donaldson, the lounge is far more than “just” a vehicle of plant medicine.

Donaldson was an herbalist before she moved to the region five years ago.

“I love that the concept of an herbal bar is kind of on the rise,” Donaldson said. “It’s a place to gather that is not alcohol-based, to see music and it’s not a bar — everybody is welcome. We want everyone in here, not the ‘regular’ crew of party-goers.”

The way community artists are drawn to the place, either because of a personal connection with the art hanging on the walls or to share a bowl of kava is a testament to the medicine’s efficacy and the human desire to connect authentically, Judy Merrick said.

Colter Merrick said his scientific and soulful appreciation for plant-based beverages began during his time as a ski bum in Telluride. Mixology is his craft, but Merrick collaborates with other local artists regularly to curate rotating exhibits, create functional furniture and sell local wares inside the lounge.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com


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