Will Sanchez hasn’t been able to reopen the doors to his vibrant Clark-Fulton art gallery, La Cosecha Galeria, in nearly a year—but that’s not stopping this long-time local artist. Instead, Sanchez is doubling down and opening a new gallery space in Old Brooklyn, replete with a café and retail component.
"Instead of me sitting on this place closed, I decided to try to reformat the art gallery into a retail-focused [concept] which will be open all of the time,” says Sanchez, who often uses the artist alias "Topiltzin."
Enter the Creative Café, located at 4490 Pearl Road. Slated to open in early March (pending permit), the gallery space will continue to showcase local artists and act as a second retail location for The Headshop, Sanchez’s still-open retail space at 3359 W. 58th St. in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. The nearly 1,000-square-foot space will inhabit a former storefront for O.J. Appliances, which still occupies the two adjacent storefronts in the complex.
Like The Headshop, the Creative Café will specialize in counterculture merchandise, along with selling incense, crystals, jewelry, clothing, tapestries, and more. Many of the items have been curated by Sanchez and his fiancé Madelaine Vega on their travels to places like Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and Mykonos in recent years. “We’ve visited shops and boutiques all over the world, and we enjoy collecting,” says Sanchez. "Madelaine has put her 20 cents in about the items we'll carry in the shop, and we'll run it together."
Additionally, the Creative Café will serve snacks and beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos, espresso, and Hispanic-inspired flavored coffees with hints of raspberry, coconut, and banana. “For now, I plan to serve my own recipes, but over time, I’d like to partner with local coffee roasters and tea [purveyors],” shares Sanchez of his future plans for the cafe component.
Sanchez says he is grateful for the support he’s received over the last year, including grants from Arts Cleveland, SPACES, and Cuyahoga County. Sanchez also recently received a $500 Virtual Experience Grant from the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation, which he will use to partner with 48-Hour Virtual Music Fest to host an upcoming artists of color symposium.
Though the new cafe marks an exciting development, it’s a bittersweet feeling for Sanchez to leave the former La Cosecha Galeria space on Storer Avenue. After all, he made headlines when he first purchased the space in late 2017, as it once housed a small convenience store at which he had made an attempted robbery (and later served 18 months in prison). But, mirroring his own path, Sanchez is a big believer in rebirth and new beginnings, and he’s ready to see what’s in store at the Creative Café.
“The meaning of ‘cosecha’ in English is ‘harvest,’ meaning we plant our own seeds and harvest our own [success],” says Sanchez. “As difficult as COVID-19 and this past year have been, what are we supposed to do…stop?”