Curitiba Art Café
Our first Diverse City blog highlights a local Brazilian cafe and craft cocktail bar in downtown Fredericksburg. In addition to brewing coffee and mixing cocktails, Curitiba Art Cafe owned by Cori Blanch and Megan Samples, is host to many arts events and mediums. Blanch, an avid musician himself, organizes music events for the city. Curitiba also plays host to a number of community events each year, as they strive to raise advocacy and awareness to issues and causes that are important to so many residents of Fredericksburg.
“It’s a big part of our ethos here,” Samples said.
At a community level, Blanch and Samples believe that it is essential to connect to both charity and creativity. “We believe that economic growth is a holistic process,” Blanch said, emphasizing the importance of what this community is built upon, from the economy to infrastructure. That is why the two of them are board members of Main Street, as well as other organizations that they feel are pivotal to strengthening the city.
“We use a human-centered approach,” Samples said,” whether that’s with our partners or artists. As business owners, we’re in a really unique position to be stewards of the community.” Samples wants to utilize the satellite pieces of the downtown economy to strengthen the city, as helping the community, according to her, is their responsibility.
Curitiba Art Cafe is named after a city in Brazil, and was created by initial owners Frank and Ana Robinson. When Blanch and Samples bought Curitiba in June of 2020, the Robinsons assisted them in providing a seamless transition during the Covid-19 pandemic. While Covid provided Blanch and Samples with difficulties such as low business traffic, they believe themselves fortunate to have a reliable crew to help carry them through the hard times. Noting their low turnover rate, the two of them still have essentially the same staff that they had from their start. They also saw Covid as a unique opportunity to innovate their business, such as creating a safer environment, providing outdoor seating, and adapting to better systems for the service industry.
As diverse business owners, Blanch and Samples believe it is important to not only support diverse-owned businesses as a consumer, but to spread the word as well. One of the philosophies that they have successfully spread is that they do not just want a diverse “figurehead” at the top of Curitiba’s business; they want diversity down the line. They emphasize the importance of hiring employees who are both qualified for the position, and are diverse themselves. “If you have the right model, those things are often times one and the same,” Samples said. She believes this philosophy allows for the cultivation of character, and brings more engagement from their employees. That is why Blanch and Samples are proud to have such a diverse team based on race, age, sexual orientation, and gender.
When it comes to celebrating diversity in the Fredericksburg community, the two of them believe it is important to highlight its benefits, from diverse thought to individual experiences. “People coming from different backgrounds and ideas help shape some of the experiences that are memorable to most people,” Blanch said. He believes diverse thought will spark many different directions, ideas, and opportunities for the community. He wants to assist in creating avenues to people to engage in diversity, as well as diverse storytelling. He also emphasized the importance of supporting both diverse businesses, and programs that themselves support diverse business ownership.
Blanch and Samples believe that strengthening downtown Fredericksburg involves bringing new ideas and innovation to the table, and to them, diversity is the obvious answer. They want to help foster an environment where support for diversity is genuine, creating safe spaces for people from all walks of life. For instance, while Blanch encourages the prospect of diverse-owned businesses, he believes property ownership for diverse businesses is even more essential. Both he and Samples are striving to help diverse businesses own their own spaces, which will assist in strengthening diverse leadership in the city. They both believe that providing seats at the table in leadership of the City of Fredericksburg will provide diverse voices to strengthen, maintain, and innovate the community.
Blanch and Samples have built their cafe around community, and diversity plays an essential role in the process. You can follow them on Facebook.