The only Queen Anne-style, gabled-roof, free-standing, balloon-framed commercial property on Broadway just got even more interesting thanks to an unexpected, progressive and forward-propelling venue which has just opened — an alternative café and lounge.
Lynn and Joann (who adamantly and cryptically refuse to release their surnames or states of origin, citing two grueling bouts with identity-theft) have opened @Broadway, the Java café and patio, and upstairs Rendezvous Lounge. “This building is the rarest hen’s tooth on the street,” Lynn said. The business couple moved to Kingston after living in West Hollywood for nearly a decade, bringing a “Pacific Northwest” attitude and vibe to the otherwise borderline Midtown-Downtown 2,300-square-foot building location with a 1700s bluestone foundation that Lynn says formerly housed a structure burned during the British invasion and rebuilt in the late 1800s, and sandwiched between Kingston Hospital and Walgreen’s pharmacy.
“This reminds me of a transitional neighborhood,” said Lynn. “They’re cleaning it up. It’s stabilizing.” Lynn said over the past three years of slowly yet steadily restoring the building and overhauling electricity, running water and major roof repairs while her partner was stationed with the military in Kosovo, she has witnessed the landscape of the neighborhood improve with commercialization and law enforcement. Lynn added that after the high school kids clear the decks after 4 p.m., their location is actually very serene. “We have been able to make our own space here.”
The indoor café, which opens at noon daily except Mondays, can seat up to 32 people and has a simple grilled-sandwich menu which includes soup, hot dogs, wraps and more. At 5 p.m. every day, there is a different $7 chef special. Bar specials include $4 house drinks and two-for-one beer specials on Friday and Saturday nights. Top-shelf drinks range between an affordable $7-$8. “We are cheap, in a totally good way,” winked Lynn. The café’s décor is a vibrant, contemporary palate of primary colors and shapes atop the black Victorian fixtures and underpinnings.
Upstairs has an altogether different look: black. Black floors, black ceilings, black walls, black window treatments, black table — one need not guess what color the sofas are — all amounting to an intimate, gender-neutral feel. Lynn says there are TVs for people to watch videos, Comedy Central or the Logo network, and free Wi-Fi. “The goal is black, and the darker, the better … All alternative clubs in California are always all-black,” explained Lynn, “If I walked into an alternative club that wasn’t, I would be like, ‘What the hell is this?’”
Lynn explains that @Broadway is totally inclusive of all lifestyles, colors and orientations, and safe space for all. “We are inclusive of all lifestyles and people. It’s a West Coast thing. If you go to an Irish pub and you’re a bit of a puff, you’re not going to be comfortable. Here, you can be whatever. We accept everyone. If you want to show up in full drag, I’ll even buy you a beer.”
@Broadway does have its boundaries — a dress code, which Lynn also explained hails from the West Coast. “No hanging pants, it’s unsanitary,” explained Lynn. “No hats. Shirts and shoes a must — and no flip-flops — that’s unsanitary too; I don’t want somebody’s foot dander in my food.”
JJ’s Rocking Cupcakes will be selling custom cupcakes through the building’s walkup window Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday starting next week, in which buyers will be able to select their cupcake or mini-cupcake flavor and preferred icing, and it will be frosted on the spot. JJ’s owner Karen Hlywiak said that they have been very successful event venues with customized cupcakes. She and her husband are currently working out of the artist space the T-Shirt Factory, and are looking forward to embedding themselves further into the community with their new location. “We live in Kingston and feel there isn’t a place like this around,” said Hlywiak. “It’s something fun, a little different. A twist on the ordinary. I definitely see the potential [in this location] if everyone works together as a community. It would be really neat to bring some new and exciting things to this area.” Hlywiak said she plans to focus on the positive aspects of the community, and cater to the medical and student communities by offering discounts with hospital or student IDs. “I want to bring back a community feel here.”
The Rendezvous Lounge will be available for private parties, including slumber parties with bar concluding with breakfast. There is an outdoor patio which will be opened in the warmer months and available with hookah rentals available as well.
Vanessa Shelmandine, the director of programs and services at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, said the café will be a welcome addition. “Our women’s discussion often meets at @Broadway after meetings because they are a nice friendly place for people to mingle and it’s a supportive community.”
Patron and business neighbor Teresa Greene visits often. “Kingston is in need of a social outlet that is friendly to diversity,” she said. “It’s a great addition to the neighborhood. This is a cozy and intimate atmosphere.”