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VOL. 133 | NO. 46 | Monday, March 5, 2018

City & State Stretches Its Reach

'Location 1.5' is Cafe Brooks, located inside the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

By Andy Meek

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The team behind the Broad Avenue coffee-and-retail concept City & State has exported it to Midtown, with an iteration that co-owner Lisa Toro describes as not quite a second location, more of a “1.5.” The cafe space inside the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is now being managed by City & State. It’s an expansion of a partnership between the museum and Toro, who led the redesign and launch of the Brooks Museum Store in November. The museum’s cafe is now Cafe Brooks by City & State.

“We view it as location 1.5, as it’s a slightly different approach, with more food selections and a menu that’s a bit different,” Toro said, adding that plans are still in flux for a second full-fledged version of City & State. That second version is still to come – the details are just still being worked out.

“We wanted to do this at the Brooks because, I think in part to us and to most of the city, the Brooks is an institution. They’re going through a lot of conversations right now around what’s next for the museum. We saw this as an opportunity to come in and reactivate the cafe as a community space,” Toro said. “And to make it really welcoming for folks from around the city as a place to come and gather, spend time and relax.”

The team behind City & State is now managing the cafe space inside the Brooks Museum of Art. It's an expansion of sorts for the City & State brand - not so much a second location, more like location 1.5, in the words of co-owner Lisa Toro. It features an expanded City & State menu and will share staff with the original City & State. (Photo courtesy of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art)

Cafe Brooks offers guests a variation on the City & State menu, as well as drinks specifically meant to pair with museum exhibits. City & State staff and baristas will also rotate between the museum location and the original City & State, at 2625 Broad Ave.

March 1 was the first day of the new cafe arrangement at the Brooks.

A venture called Low Fi Coffee had previously operated out of the same museum space. It’s something of a pop-up concept that’s now shifting to 387 South Main, where it will start up again on March 15.

Low Fi at the Brooks had previously operated from space at 7 N. Main St., where the operation shared space with the store Bozwell + Lily.

The new Cafe Brooks menu includes seasonal drinks like Rooibos Lavender Latte, which has a blend of South African herbal teas and lavender, with a hint of black pepper corn. The menu also offers a variety of coffees, tea, pastries, bagels, sandwiches and pasta salads.

“People can still expect the same City & State-quality coffee, and they’re going to get the same wonderful City & State staff and team,” Toro said. “The cafe space was basically almost ready-made. It has a full kitchen. It had some of the equipment already in place. It was a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for us to partner with the Brooks and come up with the next wave of what City & State could look like. Before we move on to a second location, where we’re biting off a much bigger chunk.”

Lisa and Luis Toro have been in expansion mode since last year, not only working toward a new location for City & State but also opening a separate business – The Liquor Store. That’s the diner-style restaurant so named because the space used to house a liquor store, which they opened at 2655 Broad Ave. in late 2017.

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