Better together

1078 Gallery creates ‘community hub’ combining art, coffee and plants

Harvests & Habitats Nursery planted itself in the back yard of the 1078 Gallery building where Equilateral Coffee moved from a truck in the front parking lot to inside. (Photo by Tina Flynn)

This feature is part of a CN&R special report: Entrepreneurs 2022: Reinvention.

The orange building at 1710 Park Avenue has undergone quite a transformation since 2020—it’s now a one-stop-shop art gallery, coffee shop and native plant nursery, a neighborhood hub that came together amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not uncommon to see folks grabbing a coffee or tea at Equilateral Coffee, taking in the latest exhibit of fine art on display on the walls of the 1078 Gallery and browsing Harvests & Habitats Nursery’s native edible and pollinator selections, all within one afternoon.

Erin Wade, 1078’s facilities chair, said the nonprofit gallery had space that wasn’t being fully utilized, especially after the pandemic began. It embraced the opportunity to create a “community hub” of activity and new collaborations while still maintaining its roots as a contemporary and experimental arts venue.

Rylan and Eileen Morabito have transformed Equilateral Coffee from a mobile business to a brick-and-mortar spot within 1078 Gallery. (Photo by Ashiah Scharaga)

“When we had to stop doing events, that was a pretty major blow to our normal operations,” she said. “[This] certainly helps us with paying our rent as well as making the space a lot more lively, and the whole corner has much more of a buzz.”

Rylan and Eileen Morabito, owners of Equilateral Coffee, used to operate from a bright teal truck in the gallery’s front parking lot. Scorching temperatures and persistent heat forced them to make frequent unplanned closures last year that were unsustainable, Eileen said.

Though the couple never planned to have a brick-and-mortar location, those challenges led to the re-envisioning of their plans. That’s when they reached out to 1078 Gallery about changing up their partnership.

Since opening indoors last summer, “we’ve gotten busier and it’s felt more secure and stable,” Rylan said. A brick-and-mortar location would have been impossible without such a partnership, he added.

“It’s a lot easier for us to manage with the way rent is climbing in Chico,” he said. “The [support of the] Barber neighborhood has gotten us through this pandemic, for sure.”

Similarly, Sherri Scott, owner of Harvests & Habitats Nursery, started operating her business (formerly known as GRUB Grown Nursery) in the back yard of 1078 last spring. For the past 12 years or so, she’s primarily sold her offerings amid the hustle and bustle of the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.

While she still sells there, Scott knew she wanted to expand to a location where she could spend more one-on-one time with customers who want to learn more about edible and native plants. Scott, who taught local students how to garden via GRUB programs for years, is passionate about plant education.

Sherri Scott offers native, edible and pollinator- and wildlife-friendly plants at her Harvests & Habitats Nursery, in the back yard of 1078 Gallery. (Photo by Ashiah Scharaga)

She’s excited about the new opportunities she has there, and said it’s all financially possible due to the partnership with 1078.

“I love the communities where there’s a smaller version of everything you need within walking distance,” she said. “To have microbusinesses where everybody supports each other and shares rent is a great way for all of us to operate.”

“We need places to come together now more than ever,” Wade added. “I’m grateful that we’ve been able to survive and be that in some way for the neighborhood and for Chico.”

1078 Gallery / Equilateral Coffee / Harvests & Habitats Nursery
1710 Park Ave.

Events:
-The Women Within Me are Tired, on display through Feb. 13
-Annual Seed & Scion Swap, Feb. 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
-Word Church spoken word open mic, every second Monday. Signups at 6 p.m.; show at 6:30 p.m.

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