MANCHESTER, NH – There’s something new brewing this weekend at Cat Alley Cafe, and it’s not just coffee: Sketch & Sip Sundays are now a thing – an art-builds-community thing that Cat Alley Cafe owner Tom Puskarich is hoping will catch on.
He’s had 50 “community sketchbooks” printed up, along with some “Bob the Cat” (an ode to Cat Alley Cafe’s graphic mascot) coloring books, which will be available for customers on a display shelf in the back near the cafe, and oodles of sketching, drawing and coloring implements. The goal is that between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., customers will come by to sit, sketch, sip mimosas, eat food, talk about cats, or life, or life with cats, and begin a community art project simply by participating.
Or they can sketch a dog, although the cat vibe is strong with this one.
“You can come in and freestyle this, and we’ll have some visuals on hand – of cats, like this one,” says Puskarich, pulling up a photo on his phone of his handsome black cat standing poetically on an end table near a living room lamp, as an example of a sketch-worthy kitty.
The art-themed brunch is based on something one of Puskarich’s staffers saw on Instagram – Florida’s Brooklyn Art Library, which for 17 years ran the Sketchbook Project. Puskarich’s idea is much simpler and includes having two artists-in-residence available to provide sketch pointers to those who might need a boost of creative confidence. Brook VanGurp is the artist who created “Bob” the cat, and inspired the cafe’s rebranding. She will be assisted by portrait artist Phoebe Mills. The sketchbooks will remain at The Bookery for perusing in between sketching sessions.
And then there’s brunch.
Along with the bottomless mimosas ($15) the cafe will feature two special dishes – Bob’s Big Breakfast sandwich, with scrambled egg, bacon, ham, Swiss cheese on sourdough bread, and Anadama bread – described by Puskarich as an old New England recipe that incorporates cornmeal, maple syrup and enriched with a host of other delightful nuggets, like raisins, nuts and seeds, resulting in something akin to a square Cinnabon with 10-times more flavor.
It’s a sweet treat wrapped in a legend – something about a fisherman’s wife named Anna served her husband too much porridge and not enough of what he really wanted, which was bread. So he tossed in some flour and yeast and tried doing it himself. While it baked he muttered, “Anna, damn her!” and the Anadama bread was born, or so the tale goes.