Blas // Lofty Haven in the Chocolate Factory
I’ve been visiting the Chocolate factory on and off for years for various arts and cultural events since it opened its doors. I must say the place has really come a long way; the Williams and Woods building on North King street has retained some element of its history since the Chocolate factory was indeed once a Confectionery Factory in the 50’s. This once disused building is now a thriving arts community, home to numerous artists studios and small businesses. It has been working for years re-developing its ground floor into a cafe/ multipurpose space. Frequenting the space over the last couple of months it has been a mish mash construction site. As this is a build as you go kind of space, all independently funded from hosted events and studio spaces in the building.
What they have done with the resources they have is certainly an admirable achievement and a great success story of vacant spaces being revitalized in the city. Coming in for my first time today since the cafe has been finished feels like I’m stepping into a very spacious and laid back loft in New York. With its huge glass windows (original frame work still in tact just refurbished) they have smoothed over every once rough surface. They have pain-stakingly reclaimed, fitted, and sanded down scaffold boards to create their floors, some furniture and counter tops. They have kept the place simple with second hand and up cycled furniture, white washed walls and naked bulbs. Its really refreshing to see a place like this that exsudeds such authenticity, and what feel like a labour of love.
As I approach the bar counter to order an americano the staff are friendly and approachable, they also serve lunch here and I’ll have to come back another day to try their food. I take a seat to enjoy my coffee: their americano was spot on, I believe the guys at Roasted Brown supply their coffee. They have a small selection of loose leaf teas from Wall and Keogh as well as pastries and fresh juices. This would be a perfect spot for doing a bit of work or coming in for a meeting with friends/ family as its so close to city center. Considering most coffee shops in the city center are very very cozy. Blas biggest attribute is the sheer vastness of its space.
As I had mentioned before this is a multipurpose space, they host a number of events from talks, screenings and exhibitions, offering a beautiful showcase
room for some of the talent already working in the building….talk about using a space to its full potential!
Blas, is definitely a diamond amongst the rough, a most welcome addition to the cafe/arts culture landscape. It’s amazing where vision, determination and a bit of scaffold board will get you.
Words and pictures: SBK Fox