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Folk Icons Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger Inspire New Coffee House in Queens

By Katie Honan | June 7, 2016 4:55pm
 The shop offers 17 varieties of coffee, tea, wi-fi and a place to meet and learn.
The shop offers 17 varieties of coffee, tea, wi-fi and a place to meet and learn.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

FLUSHING — Right off the Long Island Expressway, a new coffee house and community space is looking to grow roots in the neighborhood. 

Woody and Pete's Honky Tonk Lyceum — named for folk heroes Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger — opened in late May in a former section of the Hydroponic Garden Centers, near 148th Street.

The garden shop's owner downsized his shop but still had the space, and wanted to give back to the neighborhood, he said.

"We want to serve the community. That's what we're here for," said the owner who only gave his first name, Bill. "That's the bottom line for everything."

Cody Herrmann, 22, who serves as the space's manager and programming curator said it's the "anti-internet" space. 

A "lyceum," taken from the Ancient Greek name for a gym or open space, is meant as a public meeting place. 

The Honky Tonk Lyceum hopes to connect neighbors, and provide a venue for classes, workshops and lectures, she said.

The community wall at the shop. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)

The shop also sells fair trade and organic coffee from Strongtree, teas from SerendipiTea, jewelry from local merchants and space for artists to display their work.

The gallery walls are currently decorated with local artwork as well as blueprints from the artist Christo, famous for his many installations including "The Gates' in Central Park.

"We have a rolling open call to exhibit art and sell crafts," Herrmann said.

The Flushing native, who is also active with the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Guardians of Flushing Bay, will host a community visioning session at the lyceum on Wednesday from 6 until 8 p.m.

The shop is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. with events scheduled at other times, too.

Since opening, the shop has also hosted a fundraiser concert for Bernie Sanders, an evening yoga class and a screening of Michael Moore's documentary "Where to Invade Next."

The goal is to expand programming and make it a place for everyone in the surrounding neighborhoods to meet and learn. 

"We're waiting for the community to tell us what we are," Bill said. 

(DNAinfo/Katie Honan)