Patricia Mulcahy opened Tillie’s on DeKalb Avenue on February 25, 1997. A true pioneer on the now thriving DeKalb strip, Tillie’s was one of the first locales in the neighborhood to cater to the neighborhood’s thriving arts scene. These days, Tillie’s still hosts open mic nights and art installations.
I just received the following press release, detailing the coffee shop’s inception and listing a number of special events to celebrate this BIG anniversary:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TILLIE’S OF BROOKLYN CELEBRATES ITS TENTH ANNIVERSARY, 2/07
On February 25th, 1997, editor and publisher Patricia Mulcahy opened Tillie’s of Brooklyn on what was then a forlorn strip of DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The new coffee house was a turning point for the neighborhood. Ten years later, with Fort Greene considered one of the most vibrant areas in New York City and the controversial Atlantic Yards project certain to transform the neighborhood even further, Tillie’s is celebrating its anniversary with a month-long calendar of events showcasing Brooklyn-based music, art, and writing.
“Tillie’s is my favorite watering hole,” says City Councilwoman Letitia James, “A place where everyone knows my name, and everyone else’s as well. A place where artists, writers, students, politicians, seniors and children of every persuasion gather to get the local gossip. But it is a place in a neighborhood that is being threatened by economic forces and chain stores. It is the reason that I raise my voice so loudly against development and luxury coops. We must all do what we can to preserve the character, diversity and soul of this community. I salute Tillie’s, and raise my coffee cup in its honor.”
Housed in an 1888 landmark building in what was formerly an antiques store, Tillie’s was named to honor Tillie Asnis, whose family for decades ran businesses on the site and lived above the store. Mulcahy, former editor in chief of Doubleday and executive editor of Hyperion, designed Tillie’s to function as both a contemporary update on the corner hangout and an arts and community-oriented coffee house in the Greenwich Village tradition. In addition to art shows, Open Mic nights, and music and spoken word events, Tillie’s features a well-used community bulletin board and a rack of free publications—from The Onion and The Village Voice to The Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Courier.
“The most rewarding thing about being in business for ten years,” says Mulcahy, “is seeing the neighborhood realize its potential. It has always had amazing people—and beautiful architecture, too—but economically, it took a while for Fort Greene-Clinton Hill’s diversity and artistic flavor to be recognized and celebrated citywide. Now we are struggling to hold on to these features as change swirls around us.”
Once a lonely outpost, Tillie’s has been joined by a raft of new stores and restaurants on DeKalb Avenue as the street develops into an increasingly lively commercial strip in a burgeoning neighborhood. Over the years, Tillie’s offerings have branched out from typical coffee shop fare to include a full range of sandwiches, salads, and other light meals.
Carl Hancock Rux, poet, playwright, novelist and performer, is a longtime Fort Greene resident and Tillie’s regular. “The soup of a neighborhood is in the stock of its watering holes,” says Rux, whose Talk was labeled “a dazzling play” by The New York Times. “At Tillie’s,” he continues, “African drumming circles drown out polite business conversations; would-be iconoclasts plan their mercurial rise to fame; post-emancipation vegan hip-hopsters mingle freely with expatriate bohemes, their toddlers and their terriers. New York hasn’t seen anything like this in a looooong time.”
Tillie’s is located at 248 DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. For directions see “Getting Here” at www.tilliesofbrooklyn.com. For more information, see Calendar of Events, below, or contact Patricia Mulcahy at (718) 783-6140 or email@example.com.
Calendar of Events at Tillie’s, Tenth Anniversary 2/07
(Please note: there is no cover charge for events unless specifically noted.)
1/16/07 – 2/17/07
Prints and Paintings by Richard Lebenson
A professional illustrator for over 30 years, Lebenson shows his moody, atmospheric etchings, drawings, and paintings.
Open Mic night
Lily Maase, guitar
Evan Smith, sax
Peter Van Huffel, sax
Matt Wigton, bass
Fred Kennedy, drums
“Add modern technology, experimental compositional approaches, killer technique and a fearless sense of fun, and you’ve got some seriously remarkable new music.” – The Weekly Alibi
7:30 p.m. A Night of Noir
A reading from the popular anthology Brooklyn Noir, published by Brooklyn-based Akashic Books. Editor Tim McLoughlin, plus Nicole Blackman and Arthur Nersesian, will read original crime stories that take place in Brooklyn neighborhoods. “A stellar collection.” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
8 p.m. An Evening of Comedy
Organized by Julie Miller, who graduated from Pratt with a degree in Writing for Performance and now works at Spike TV. With Sara Alloco, Brandy Barber (“Mortified,” The Kissing Booth”), Jordan Carlos (“Live at Gotham,” Montreal Comedy Festival), Andrew Condell (“The Tunafish Sandwich Story”), Matthew Guzzardo (“The Sizzle Twins”), Julie Miller, and Lindsay Nouis. Based on the weekly comedy writing workshop held in Miller’s apartment (conveniently located directly above Tillie’s).
8 p.m. Pam Fleming and Fearless Dreamer
Pam Fleming, trumpet and flugelhorn
Allen Won, sax and flute
Adam Klipple, keyboards
Paul Frazier, bass
Todd Isler, drums
Pam is well known for her work with Nathalie Merchant, the Indigo Girls, and Toots and the Maytals. She has recorded two CDS of her own compositions. More info here.
8 p.m. Arthur Kell Quartet
Dave Binney, also sax
Gerald Cleaver, drums
Arthur Kell, bass
Brad Shepik, guitar
“Kell’s compositions are filled with melodic arrangements, spontaneous interaction, and vibrant individual performances.” All About Jazz
7p.m. “Kick the Winter Blues” with Felicia Desrosiers,
Holistic Health Counselor
How to make the most out of winter – simple recipes and post-holiday detox tips
Felicia was featured recently in a Village Voice cover story about breaking addictions to sugar.
Open Mic night
8:30 p.m. sign-up
8 p.m. Tim Kuhl Group
Tim Kuhl, drums and marimba
Aggressive but melodic music from a young drummer and composer originally from Baltimore who now lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kuhl studied drums and composition at Towson State in Maryland and performs not just jazz but also rock in a band called the Izzys, which has toured the U.S. and U.K. extensively. He cites Wayne Shorter as a particular influence.
7 p.m. Behind the Scenes with Ted and Betsy Lewin
The award winning children’s book illustrators present a special evening for both adults and school-age children in which they will show slides of their work and demonstrate elements of the writing/illustrating process.
First 07 weekend of Brooklyn’s only ongoing new music festival, a monthly series showcasing performers and composers with a common vision and a sense of reaching out for something new. Curated by Lily Maase.
7 p.m. Nate Renner and special guests
8:30 Gerald Cleaver’s NiMbNI
Jean Carla Rodea, voice
Ryan Macstaller, guitar
Todd Neufeld, guitar
Josh Myers, bass
Gerald Cleaver, drums
8 p.m. Tenth Anniversary party and opening for staff art show, “We Do More Than Serve Coffee,” 2/18/07 – 3/31/07
Organized by Jessie Lied, fiber artist
With Bjorn Akerbloom, illustration
Lani Bouwer, photographs
Katie Deacon, drawings and paintings
Maya Edelman, illustration and animation
David Nix, photographs
Sefu Solace, print
Tara Stark, drawings