A new Gulf Gate coffee shop combines java and jewelry.
It all started with a playdate.
In 2014, after meeting through their children, who attended the same preschool, Edgar de la O and Tracy de Chevron Villette struck up a friendship. As they and their families got to know one another, they realized they were both looking for a change in their professional lives.
De Chevron Villette had recently moved to Sarasota from London, where she worked as a jewelry designer. She wanted to open a gallery, and de la O had an affinity for the young, trendy atmosphere in the coffee shops he discovered while living in St. Petersburg.
One day, while their kids were playing, the idea came to them. Why don’t they combine the two?
“There really wasn’t anything like that in Sarasota,” says de la O. “Me and my wife used to drive to St. Petersburg, just to visit some of those coffee shops, and we thought people would be happy to have something like that here.”
In January, they opened The Clever Cup Coffee Shop, a gallery and coffee shop, which displays local and international jewelry and art and serves locally roasted organic coffee and pastries.
We sat down to talk coffee, live music and why caffeine makes you clever.
“Galleries can be kind of intimidating for people. A coffee shop is somewhere people can feel relaxed and at home. It allows for more human interaction, and people can casually be introduced to the art. It seemed like a good combination.” - de Chevron Villette
“Gulf Gate is a great location. We both live in the area, and we both believe in it. There’s an insurgence of young people and businesses down here. It’s more than just a bar spot.” - de la O
“We found a local roaster, Black Gold, which is located in Venice. It’s all fair trade and organic, which is important to us. People really liked their coffee, and we decided that’s what we wanted to serve. I worked with the founder, Gary Lauters, to learn all about the coffee and preparation.” - de la O
“We serve coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, which is surprisingly hard to find in Florida, and pastries and pies from Sift Bakery. On Fridays, we host ‘Pie-Latte,’ where we host live music and serve treats.” - de la O
“As parents, we thought about the things we like to do. We love live music, so we decided to incorporate that every Friday night. We also like a relaxed environment that’s family friendly. We have a BYOB policy, with a corkage fee, so people can bring a bottle of wine and relax and listen to music in something different than a bar setting.” - de la O
“I knew a lot of artists from my time in London and Tokyo. I wanted to have a rotation of both local and foreign artists and designers. It’s something really different. Our whole theme is creativity. We want to encourage creativity in all forms.” - de Chevron Villette
“We started talking about how you feel when you have a cup of coffee. It makes you feel bright, alert and more creative. You feel clever, so we decided to call it The Clever Cup, and we incorporated that into the logo, with the fox formed by the rising steam.” - de Chevron Villette
“We’ve met some amazing people, both customers and artists and musicians. It’s cool when the talent starts to comes to you. I like seeing what people create.” - de Chevron Villette
“I thrive in a mom-and-pop type environment. We want to provide that artisanal coffee experience, but we still want to be friendly and welcoming. We make exactly what the customer wants. People want high-quality products, but they also like to be pampered.” - de la O