By Katherine Pullen, Staff Writer
The skinny brick building at 1306 E. Main St. in Humboldt was vacant so long that people had forgotten what its four walls once contained. For about 20 years, the only life that crossed its threshold was the occasional squatter looking for a shelter on a cold or tornado-fraught night.
Perhaps Red Door Café, the new occupant at 1306 E. Main, can bring life to Humboldt’s business district.
“I’m optimistic for downtown Humboldt,” said Rob Alsobrook, Humboldt native, Union alumnus and co-owner of the Red Door Café along with his wife, Emily. “I think our smallness is an asset. It’s quaint. It’s got a lot of potential. You get the right businesses in downtown and it can really take off.”
The idea for the café, Alsobrook said, grew from his desire to start a community workshop-based arts center in Humboldt. Alsobrook, a visual artist and former professor, said the café was originally one part of the blueprint for the arts center, but he and his wife agreed that starting the café separately first could be an excellent way to help sustain the expenses of a fledgling arts center.
When designing the interior of the café, Alsobrook said he was inspired by a quote from sculptor Constantin Brancusi, who said, “Architecture is inhabited sculpture.”
Most tables in the trendy café are made from large red doors that easily seat six, and the walls perpetually host various art displays. Scrap wood from inside the formerly vacant building is used in the décor and design of the coffee bar. The ductwork, left visible in the high ceiling, gives the café a modern feel and cuts the noise level during peak hours.
“I like it most because there’s nothing like it in Jackson,” said Kate Sudduth, senior social work major. “It reminds me of the city more because I’m from the city and so it’s nostalgic (for me) to go to a café that kind of steps you out of rural Tennessee and sets you somewhere else.”
Laura Keithline, head chef and graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, a Le Cordon Bleu school, said the menu is always changing, and they try to keep their food items fresh by purchasing produce daily.
The café took four awards in the Humboldt Chronicle’s Best of the Best 2012 competition, including best restaurant, best salad, best steak and best dessert.
Lunch dishes, including salads, sandwiches, wraps and soups, are generally in the $5 to $7 range, and the Red Door’s most popular item, the Avocado Turkey Sandwich, is $6.50. The dinner menu includes pastas and steaks.
From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day, all drinks are buy one, get one half off. Students with a college identification card get 10 percent off food and drinks anytime.
Red Door Café is about 15 minutes from Union’s campus. The café, which offers free WiFi and outdoor seating, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. On Saturdays, the café serves brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the regular menu returning until 8 p.m. The cafe is closed Sundays.
The Red Door Café frequently announces specials and discounts at www.facebook.com/RedDoorCafe1306.