Brooklyn, New York—Located on a vast, leafy street in Park Slope’s sister neighborhood of Windsor Terrace, random strangers enjoy coffee, salads and paninis, having one thing in common; they’re all sitting at a large, family-style table.
They are sitting in one of two “common tables, at the Brooklyn Commune, one of the up and coming cafés of Prospect Avenue, Windsor Terrace. These tables not only encourage family style dining, but perhaps a conversation- a chit chat with your neighbor, an exchange of information about the neighborhood.
Founders Eugenie Woo and Christopher Scott, created the Brooklyn Commune with a specific goal in mind–to create an athomspehere ideal for sharing a hearty meal together, which they believe is “one of the basic ways we can express love for one another”. The café, – a term that lives short compared to what is truly offered here, is a three in one. With it’s grand opening in late 2010, the Brooklyn Commune also serves as a small market, and place to pick up hot dinner for the family-aside from the standard café.
With intentions of creating a sense of community Woo and Scott say they are “providing a welcoming environment with simple yet delicious food, we encourage the development of relationships within our community”, as stated in their mission statement. Regardless of its small size, many residents feel unity within Windsor Terrace community is largely lacking. “You feel really disconnected from one side to the other”, says Elizabeth Wince, a 21-year-old female living across the Prospect Expressway that largely separates the two sides of Windsor Terrace. Several bridges join the two neighborhoods but residents tend to stay each to their own.
However, the Brooklyn Commune might just be the reason for people to finally come together. The décor, very simple yet elegant, but cozy enough to give you the feeling of your own kitchen, consists of simple tables made out of light maple, and a big open area, leaving enough room for a line to form and your thoughts to roam free. And don’t worry, if you’re in the less social of moods, there are tables for two, and a bar stools with a counter facing the window. The walls mostly a light beige, are complemented by two areas of a pine green, giving it enough color to have a relaxed sophisticated feel, but not scream “wild”.
In the corner you will find a table and several stands full of healthy and wholesome goodies, reminiscent of a marketplace. Things from homemade soda syrup, to coffee beans, to teas, as well as pottery such as plates and vases from local artists are sure to find your eye. In the refrigerator, there is locally made tempeh, homemade jams and flavored blends of matsutake, a rare-Japanese mushroom, known for its rare aromatic odor and health benefits. Lastly, you will find a variety of cheeses, anything from Manchego to Cheddar, your cheese craving will be satisfied here.
Behind the counter, on a large black chalkboard, you will find the menu. Woo and Scott are committed to using the freshest ingredients, as well as providing several gluten-free options. The Brooklyn Commune offers an array of salads, sandwiches and soups, varying on the season. Their flavors include classic American tastes, such as Macaroni and Cheese and the BLT, as well as several Thai dishes such as the Green Bean Salad and Lemongrass Chicken.
However, great food and coffee are not the only things the Brooklyn Commune has to offer residents and passers by. It also serves as a community center for residents. On one of the walls, locals can post ads about anything from baby-sitting services, to yoga classes, to music lessons- all within the community. On occasional weekends, for $30, one can take a cooking class with their tot, ages 9-15, which emphasizes the ideology of the basis of healthy cooking. Later all the food cooked is donated to the Park Slope’s Woman’s Shelter, which is heavily supported by the cafe.
In addition to donating food, the Brooklyn Commune is currently working on a project to open up a self-sustaining vegetable and herb garden, as well as several fundraising activities for the shelter, such as the Strawberry Short Cake eating contest and the homemade dessert show down.
Want to meet more of your adult neighbors? Another great activity the Brooklyn Commune organizes is the Supper/Dinner Club. Once or twice a month, for $40 a head the café takes on different themes of food- vegetarian, Italian, Indian, and throws a BYOB Saturday day night dinner. Sports are usually limited, and one should sign-up early.