Lights, camera, coffee. Fingers tap on keyboards under dim lights and students sip on cappuccinos while an art house film plays on the big screen in the background. Audio from the film travels through an app and then to earbuds, keeping the air quiet and still.
Acoustic Java Café and Microcinema will open its doors to the public for the first time today — replacing the beloved Cable Car Cinema on 204 South Main St., at the foot of College Hill. Cable Car, a cinema and cafe, closed in May 2018 after 42 years of screenings when it decided not to renew its lease on the Rhode Island School of Design-owned building, The Herald previously reported. Acoustic Java has a lease with RISD Holdings, wrote RISD Senior Public Relations Specialist Danielle Mancuso in an email to The Herald.
The new location marks Acoustic Java’s expansion into Providence; it currently operates two coffee shops in Worcester, M.A. For owner David Fullerton PhD’06, the South Main Street location means coming home. “That was the first choice he had for expansion, to come to Providence,” General Manager Alecia Bishop told The Herald.
The Providence location will be the first Acoustic Java to host more regular film screenings of independent and alternative films, as opposed to pop-up showings. Daytime showings will be complimentary, while nighttime showings will require tickets. Acoustic Java will screen “Cléo from 5 to 7” at 7:15 tonight.
“We’re also getting a lot of requests from the community already,” Fullerton said. “We already have a yoga movie we’re showing for the yoga community.”
The cafe will serve Fullerton’s small-batch roasted coffee, prioritizing the intersection of sustainability and quality. To accompany the drinks, Acoustic plans to serve locally sourced, seasonal dishes and small plates, according to local chef Gideon Skerry, who previously worked for Tallulah’s Taqueria and Flatbread Company. “Our goal here is to serve really cool food,” Skerry said. “We got the cinema going … I know people are upset about Cable Car leaving, so we’re trying to bring that back to Providence.”
The shop’s menu currently lists pastries, toasts, salads and sandwiches, with baked goods from Seven Stars Bakery and dairy from Wright’s Farm in North Smithfield. R.I. Skerry plans to diversify the menu after about a month, taking inspiration from the film of the day. “If it’s an Italian movie or a French movie, try to do a dish that pertains to that,” Skerry said. “Braised meats, I want to do a lot of pickling stuff.”
Fullerton is also looking to do a young programmers workshop for teenagers aged 15-19 to teach them the art of sourcing films.
“There’s a great cinema community here,” Fullerton said, “great established communities with their own identities.”