The owners of downtown bar Coconut Club and the founder of record label Growth in Decay opened a cafe, bar, and a wide-ranging listening room this month in East Austin. Community Garden is located at 1401 Cedar Avenue, Suite 2 in Chestnut as of May 19.
By day, Community Garden is a cafe serving acai bowls, with grain-free granola or coconut water and other spices and ingredients. There are four base options: a cherry/pineapple; a strawberry/banana; pineapple/banana/mango/blue spirulina; dragon fruit/mango/pineapple. As a finishing touch, each of the bowls is served and plated as a smiling face. There are also drink options including cold brew, kombucha, iced matcha, black tea, Olliepop soda, and sparkling water.
And then at around 4 p.m., the cafe turns into a wine bar. Bottles include red, white, orange, and sparkling from the Hill Country, Spain, France, and Chile, There are also beers, including a good showing of local breweries like Austin Beerworks and Blue Owl Brewery. For food, there are snacks like tinned fish with crackers and pickles, an olive plate, a pickle plate, and mixed nuts.
Musically, they’ll play everything from deep house to hip hop, to Italian disco, to 1970s R&B. DJs will play records on the weekends in a more relaxed setting than what you’d typically find on sweaty nights at Coconut Club. “When you’re playing a club, you’re so reliant on the crowd,” Coconut co-owner Brian Almaraz says. “Here, I feel like you can really go deep into your bag. We don’t necessarily want a dance floor in here. We want people to be able to sit down and enjoy themselves.”
The space features natural woods, terracotta tiling, and plants, along with two green velvet couches, a DJ booth, and a wooden fixture that houses local records, tapes, zines, and T-shirts. It was designed by the other Coconut co-owner Cole Evans, who tells Eater that it’s intended to look earthy, tactile, and simple — like a home. The back patio is covered in greenery and has wooden seats.
This is Growth in Decay founder and DJ James Harcrow’s first hospitality venture. The idea for Community Garden was inspired by Harcow taking his Vitamix to Coconut Club meetings and making big batches of acai bowls for the whole team. “After doing that a few times, they asked if I was interested in doing anything outside of my house,” he says.
Evans and Almaraz are former bartenders at Cheer Up Charlies and co-own and operate Coconut Club, Neon Grotto, and Cuatro Gato.
Coconut Club, which quickly became an institution in Austin when it opened in 2019, especially in the queer community, is one of a number of downtown bars that’s been under threat of demolition to serve the interests of developers. In a way, the aim of Community Garden is to serve as a space where cultural aspects and community building among creatives can thrive in a city that’s rapidly changing.
“I think having the club spaces and different stuff like that is very crucial to a city,” Harcrow says. “Outside of that, it’s important to also have spaces for people to meet and congregate. These two things serve very important roles in any community. I’m kind of looking at this space to be the spot where homies can come through and kick back.”
Community Garden is open from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. Its hours are expected to expand sometime in June.
Update, 5:14 p.m. This article, originally published at 10:49 a.m., has been updated to correct Community Garden’s neighborhood.