I was brought to the New Deal Café in aptly-named Greenbelt, Maryland by a genuine champion of the New Deal. The pro-labor motif won me over instantly when we arrived. I later learned that the café is in the even more aptly-named Roosevelt Center!
My father-in-law John Hayes moved to Greenbelt at the start of his tenth decade, and this café exemplifies the value of having moved to a community of kindred spirits. The spacious café is situated in a walkable neighborhood, centered in a plaza that provides the community with many kinds of nourishment, gustatory and otherwise. Within the café – and without, in its covered patios – is plenty of room for sharing healthy foods prepared on site, along with beverages – including juices, coffee, and craft beers – along with conversation, poetry, and visual arts.
|Though we were indoors with the sculptures, the patio is quite inviting.|
While we were in the café, a friend of John’s approached to say that she had chosen the route for her daily bike ride so as to arrive in the café for a better look at his sculptures currently on display (and for sale). It was great to see that in just one year he has become a bit of local celebrity, both for his poetry and his visual arts. Learn more about each at his Bluebat poetry blog and his John Hayes sculpture site.
|Greenbelt News Review June 6, 2013|
The artist posed with his granddaughter (my daughter), who fortunately gets her artistic genes from the Hayes side of the family!
The pieces chosen for this show, incidentally, are but a few of John's smaller works, chosen for this particular installation. I am particularly fond of this blue piece, as it appears to float in a sea of blue.
In the café itself, the emphasis seems to be more on the food than the coffee, so I played it safe with some iced coffee – I plan to do some research with a chemist friend to find out why mediocre iced coffee is more tolerable than mediocre hot coffee. Anyway, the iced coffee was decent though not exceptional, the variety of soft drinks was impressive. My baklava was good – how can it go wrong? – and made with both pistachios and walnuts. Our daughter scarfed down a lentil soup that she found delicious.
In the hubbub of the greater DC area, this café and the surrounding Roosevelt Center – which includes a full-service cooperative grocery – is a welcome oasis of good food, tranquility, and the arts. As a geographer, I am particularly intrigued by the emphasis on circles in the planning of Greenbelt, a community with plenty of radial symmetry.