The inspiration for the new Garnett's Café ( 2001 Park Ave., 367-7909 ) in the Fan is a lively 102-year-old Essex County native who lives in Arizona and, until a few years ago, regularly hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A former drugstore owner, Garnett Beckman would feel right at home at the lunch counter in the café run by her grandchildren, siblings Kendra and Curt Feather (pictured). "She's been a huge influence on me," Kendra Feather says, adding that they share an entrepreneurial bent. She hopes "Kiki" will be able to visit the restaurant in April for her 103rd birthday.
Garnett's is less than a mile from Ipanema, Feather's below-ground, mainly vegetarian restaurant near the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, but it feels much farther, as if it hails from an earlier era. Jars of pickles line the top shelf, and there are decorative plates on the walls. Sandwiches — served with house-made refrigerator pickles — are filled with roast beef, ham, turkey, bacon and smoked salmon, with no seitan in sight. The café's hummingbird cake was inspired by Feather's late grandmother, Grace Feather, who often made banana cake.
Garnett's opens as a coffee shop from 7 to 11 a.m. and serves its lunch menu from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (wine and beer have been added to the menu). And if you ask, they'll let you borrow a basket and blanket to take to the park across the street for a picnic.