For Ana Robinson, a dream that has been more than 20 years in the making will finally come to fruition when Curitiba Art Café, an amalgamation of a furniture store and coffee shop, opens its doors at 919 Caroline Street in a few weeks.
Originally from Curitiba — the leafy state capital of Paraná in the southern region of Brazil — Ana met her husband, Frank Robinson, while he was traveling on business throughout her beautiful, wonderfully eclectic home country. The two fell for each other, and Frank brought her back to his charming hometown of Fredericksburg. Years later, the couple has built a life together and will soon bring a taste of the city where they met to downtown Fredericksburg.
The idea behind the furniture-selling aspect of Curitiba Art Café was inspired by a bird called the “grahla azul,” or blue raven, a protected species in the state of Paraná. The bird is well-known in southern Brazil for aiding in the reforestation efforts throughout the region by burying pine cones in the ground and meticulously covering them with branches and needles to hide the planted seeds from other animals that would eat them. Left to grow, the seeds develop into magnificent 80-foot trees that currently populate much of the south.
Curitiba Art Café aids in the blue raven’s ecological endeavor by preserving these trees and, instead, carefully hand-crafting its furniture solely from reclaimed wood obtained from old farms, plantations and colonial homes throughout Brazil. The revitalized pieces are then shipped and delivered to Fredericksburg, where patrons of the Robinsons’ coffee shop will not only have an opportunity to mingle and sip their coffee (in addition to wine and beer), but will also be able to purchase the very furniture they find themselves seated at — chairs, coffee tables, dining sets, footrests, end tables and much more.
The Robinsons are hoping to create an environment where customers feel the shop’s positive energy and love — much like the warmth that Brazilians inherently radiate. They plan to offer children’s storytelling on Saturday mornings, art classes, live music, international cultural nights, wine tastings, treasure hunts and a plethora of other fun activities.
The space was re-designed by Frank Robinson, a longtime local architect, and the couple hired independent carpenters and builders to assist with the renovation of the building, which is owned by Joe Wilson. They exposed brick walls and chimneys from the 1900s and also built an outdoor patio for patrons and their four-legged pals to enjoy during the nicer months of the year. A private upstairs space is also available for small board meetings, baby showers and staff parties.