Red Eye Cafe is a convenient pick-me-up for the artists and staff working at Mana Contemporary and began brewing strong coffee and dreaming up eats on the fourth floor of the former tobacco plant turned renowned arts center this summer. Open to the public as well, Red Eye Cafe lends a caffeine boost to the whole neighborhood.
Owners Anthony and Laura Brinton also operate the original Red Eye Cafe in Montclair and are experienced both behind the coffee bar and in the kitchen. Before Red Eye Cafe, Anthony owned Eclectic Cafe where he honed his barista skills in what’s been described as the Central Perk of Montclair. And with an inclination to have his cafes double as mini art galleries, the Mana Contemporary outpost is fitting.
The space at Mana is massive and has a school cafeteria vibe in the best way with large communal tables for patrons to really spread out and refuel. It’s easy to imagine, when a Mana artist takes a break from the studio, an impromptu art project taking shape at one of the tables over coffee. And WiFi is available.
Red Eye Cafe brews Red House Roaster coffee and offers a classic menu — drip, espresso, latte, cappuccino — as well as the cafe’s namesake which is a regular coffee punched up with a shot of espresso. Also on the menu are Nitro and pour over options plus a Dirty Chai that is sure to spice up the standard coffee break. Tea and almond milk are additional alternatives.
Fresh local fare fills the menu from homemade pastries and Laura’s subtly spicy banana bread to a myriad of sandwiches and salads. Look for seasonal specials and the clever take on the campfire classic — a S’mores cookie with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Anthony and Laura are in the process of upgrading the kitchen with an eye toward a fuller menu and building out the space similar to Montclair’s white subway tile aesthetic. Summer hours have been Monday – Friday from 10 a.m – 3 p.m., but they also expect to be open for Saturday tours and events which start up again this fall.
It’s easy to gain access, simply tell the front desk you’re heading to Red Eye Cafe and sign in. Whether grabbing a coffee to go or taking an afternoon break, Red Eye Cafe is a wonderful way to experience Mana as more of an insider, walking the halls without a tour guide and mingling with the artistic community.