Over the course of a few months, New Paltz has slowly turned into a graveyard, haunted by the ghosts of past businesses.
In April, the quaint Village Tearoom poured its last cup of Earl Grey. In June, Kon-Tiki Trading Co., an exhibitor of local art and the best place to buy smoking paraphernalia, took its last hit. In July, the women’s clothing and accessory store, Rambling Rose, folded its last garment.
However, it wasn’t until late August that New Paltz experienced its most devastating loss: the closing of CafAmelia.
Formerly known as the Cafeteria Coffeehouse, the space was rechristened CafAmelia on April 1 by Rebecca and Casey McCann, in honor of their young daughter, Amelia.
Five months later, on Aug. 31, Rebecca announced on Facebook that CafAmelia is now closed.
“We are so grateful for this opportunity, but we came to the mutual agreement that this is not the right time in our lives for this particular project,” Rebecca wrote. “With our kids being so young, there simply isn’t enough time in the day for such a venture. We are grateful for meeting so many wonderful people while on this adventure.”
CafAmelia was one of the gems in the crown of New Paltz. It provided a communal hub for people to sip on coffee, hang out and hear live music. The coffeehouse was also a space for a variety of entertainment like comedy, poetry, drag shows and storytelling.
“It was one of the only places you could go to just hang,” said New Paltz resident and SUNY New Paltz graduate Eunice Draw. “I’ve met so many people in that place and had many political meetings.”
While the loss of CafAmelia has left a hole in the heart of the community, CafAmelia’s former employee Joseph Davis takes the closing in a positive stride.
“Even through it all, I still feel very much like it’s something to be thankful and grateful for,” Davis said. “Whenever an opportunity ends in life, it’s always one door opens every time another closes. There’s always a way to look at the situation that can make you feel inspired and thankful.”
During the era of CafAmelia, Davis was in charge of booking the live entertainment. Some of the local musicians who took the coffeehouse’s stage were Matthew Parker, David Bernard, and the Spookfish.
“It opened my eyes to how many talented musicians there are in this town where you could find someone to play every night,” Davis said. “It’s an amazing challenge to try to find people every night to play, but they loved playing in that room. It’s one of the most intimate venues I’ve ever been in in my life.”
One of Davis’ proudest achievements was “Laughs Over Lattes.” Held on Thursday nights, the open mic night gave people the opportunity to express themselves—or espresso themselves, as Davis likes to put it—through storytelling, comedy and poetry. Plus, lattes were half off!
With CafAmelia closed, there lies a void in New Paltz for live music and entertainment. Luckily, there are now open mic nights at Peace Park every Monday at 7 p.m. There is also speculation that Crossroads, a DIY music venue in New Paltz, might take part in open mics during the winter months.
“I think we are all supposed to hear different kinds of music and see different kinds of entertainment. It should be a regular thing on Main Street, if not CafAmelia,” Davis said. “Our generation is craving a place to communicate, to spread ideas and to express themselves that is not the internet.”
As Davis put it, when one door closes another door opens. Even though CafAmelia has shut its doors, the pursuit of creative expression in New Paltz continues onward.
For those in search of live music, Crossroads will be hosting a show tonight featuring yendawg, GREENHOUSELAKE and The Down & Outs. Doors open at 7 p.m. and there is a $5 donation.