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Callan Café: Wi-Fi and Coffee at Callanwolde

Arts center on Briarcliff hopes its new Internet and coffee spot will attract the general public

Do you laptop-hop between , , , and other neighborhood spots where you can get free Internet service and maybe a shot of caffeine? Do you wish there were another location option for that little meeting you’ve got to put together?

There’s a fine new place, with an ample dose of serenity, that a lot of people don’t yet know about: Callan Café. Located on the second floor of the restored Callanwolde mansion on Briarcliff Road that is the , the café has been open since the winter.

Turning a large bedroom, its adjoining bath, and (coming soon) a rooftop area into Callan Café was just one of many recent upgrades to the 12.5-acre property.

It’s a coffee and snack café, with no food cooked on the premises. But the coffee (by Royal Cup) is stong and serious, and the pastries and brownies are fresh and dangerous — as in delicious. The “house” iced tea is a black peach tea.

Margot Van Horne, a junior working as a barista in the café this summer, might suggest you add a shot of pomegranate syrup to your iced peach tea for an extra 75 cents. That was her idea: the shot of pomegranate. This blend was so yummy and refreshing that we had to have another.

When we visited Callan Café one late afternoon this week, Callanwolde’s night facilities administrator Chip Kyle was popping in for another cup of fresh brew. Kyle has worked at Callanwolde for 16 years.

Being a coffee lover, he had one thing to say about Callan Café: “It’s about time!”

While the staff itself enjoys the perks of having an inviting new spot in which to take breaks and conduct meetings, the café was installed to serve as a destination for the general public, as well as for those who take classes on the premises (500-1,000 every week), and for parents/guardians who often wait on the premises while youngsters are in a class (children’s programs include an array of art, music, and dance classes).

“The idea is for this to be a neighborhood getaway,” said Susan Summers, publicity and arts events director for Callanwolde.

She said it is hoped that students, such as those from nearby , will also find their way to Callan Café.

“Where do you go these days to be left alone with your thoughts?” asked Sam Goldman, executive director of Callanwolde. “We hope students and others who are looking for some peace and quiet will be coming here.”

For Goldman, the café is just one more goal achieved in his long career at Callanwolde. He has worked here for 33 years, not always as the guy in charge. His first job here: stringing apples for Christmas at Callanwolde, the arts center’s signature fundraiser that brings in more than $100,000 every year.

The café occupies a south-facing bedroom in the Gothic-Tudor mansion built in 1920 as part of the estate of Charles Howard Candler, eldest son of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler.  A crystal chandelier was brought up from a lower room in the mansion and adds to the café’s elegance. The handsome furnishings — from comfy chairs to intimate tables with miniature red lamps — suit the stately mansion; decorative touches pay homage to the Candler family’s Irish heritage.

The bedroom’s adjoining bathroom has become the café’s kitchen component. By late this summer, a large outdoor deck/terrace will be an extension of the café, situated atop the portico at the mansion’s side entrance.

Café hours are a bit unusual. It’s open in the mornings only on Saturday, and in the mornings and evenings Monday-Thursday — but not from 11:30am-3pm.

Sitting outside on the large deck, with its panoramic view of Callanwolde’s terraced formal gardens and wooded grounds “is just going to be a beautiful experience,” said Robin Van Horne, café manager who also serves as chief registrar for the arts center. “I mean, when the fall colors arrive, it’s going to be killer.”

If you go: Callan Café is open 9am-11:30am and 3-8pm Mondays-Thursdays, and 9am-noon Saturdays. Closed Sundays. At Callanwolde, 980 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta, 30306; 404-872-5338.

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