Elixart, a gallery and tea bar on Nevada City’s Broad Street since 2012, has opened a second location in Grass Valley.
Colter Merrick, owner of Elixart, took over the lease to the Grass Valley storefront — 104 E. Main St. — in early March. He said the seven-month period between signing the lease and opening for business was a difficult one.
Talking about pivoting his plans for this Grass Valley spot as the COVID-19 pandemic set in, Merrick said, “We put the brakes on it.” He said he didn’t feel it would be a good idea to open this second location during the first several months of the pandemic, particularly as operating the original Nevada City location required an increased amount of attention amid quickly changing constraints and guidelines.
The new Grass Valley Elixart has a significantly greater focus on food than the Nevada City location, according to Merrick. In addition to the Elixart menu familiar to its customers — which primarily features tea and health-centered beverages, raw foods, and sweets — the new location is serving breakfast and lunch, as well as “super food” smoothies and yogurt made in-house.
Merrick said that, although he wouldn’t describe the new Elixart as a raw foods restaurant, it has a variety of raw and vegetarian options. He described the new location as offering “just really healthy, conscious, kind, organic food.”
“We’re 95% there,” Merrick said of working out final details such as signage and setting up their outdoor seating, while having already opened for business.
He said they have not yet set a date for a “grand opening,” but the new location will be expanding its hours to 10 a.m. through 8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
REVIVING A ‘COMMUNITY EVENT SPACE’
For about six months, Elixart in Nevada City was operating strictly on a to-go basis, and limiting its capacity to one customer at a time. Challenges have arisen as the business finds its way back to being a “community event space,” as described by Merrick. Prior to COVID-19, Elixart regularly hosted live music, open mics, and educational events.
He said they tried to reintroduce Saturday events in early September, and found this would require more planning than anticipated.
“We have since cancelled them because the turnout was just too great,” he said, explaining this made it difficult to ensure all health guidelines were being followed.
“There is going to be … more of a tea lounge, but we’re kind of running half mast as far as creating more of a place for people to gather right now,” said Merrick. While operating with a strong emphasis on to-go service, he is looking into options to increase room for outdoor events based around both locations, including collaboration with other business owners who have access to more event space outdoors as well as arranging to use nearby parking lot space.