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Kew Gardens Coffee Shop Hopes to Offer Taste of Local Art Scene

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | January 22, 2013 7:04am

QUEENS — A Kew Gardens coffee shop with artistic aspirations is hoping to become a stage for the growing arts scene in a neighborhood that lacks a bookstore or a library, its owner said.

Odradeks, a coffee shop named after a creature from a short story by Franz Kafka, has organized a handful of events since it opened about a year ago at 82-60 Austin St., near the Kew Gardens LIRR train station.

Now the owner, Jacob Ganz, 37, is hoping to build on that success and turn Odradeks into a cultural mecca in the area.

“We want to have [events] even once a week,” said Ganz. “I think there is enough interest for that.”

Ganz, a Kew Gardens resident who also writes fiction and poetry, says his goal is to create a “relaxed kind of neighborhood place” for local artists and writers who will be able to work there while drinking high-quality coffee.

Ganz gets his coffee from a Vancouver-based roaster, Forty Ninth Parallel, and the tea from a Californian company Art of Tea.

Comfortable armchairs and a bunch of books piling up on a table near the entrance contribute to Odradeks' artistic ambiance.

Recently, the coffee shop also began showing paintings, starting with works by Mandy Gor, who is also a community activist.

Literary events have also been popular. Deborah Emin, a Kew Gardens writer and publisher, organized a couple of readings at Odradeks, including an evening with Justin Martin, who read from his book "Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted," and Martin's wife, Liza Charlesworth, who read her poetry.

Emin says Kew Gardens has been craving for this kind of venue.

“There is no bookstore here so there is no place to start a reading series or to bring in writers that have books coming out,” Emin said.

Ganz is hoping to fill the cultural void and he says he encourages local artists to approach him.

"There are a surprising amount of people in the neighborhood who write and read," he said. "And we want to do more things here."