Café, florist combine forces in St. Mark’s neighborhood
A pair of small Dot Ave. businesses that have each struggled to stay afloat during tough economic times joined forces this month. Harmony Floral Designs — a newer business that closed its doors last year amid mounting bills— has now set up shop across the street inside the popular Dot2Dot Café, the bakery and restaurant that has become a signature stop along the St. Mark’s stretch of Dorchester Avenue.
The partnership between café owner Karen Henry-Garrett and florist Estella Marina makes business sense for both merchants, who have a similar customer base and a commitment to make things work on Dot Ave.
“People love the look of her space,” says Marina, who has carved out a colorful kiosk along one side of the café’s seating area to display her floral arrangements. Most of the workspace she needs to create and store her flowers is in the basement— out of sight. But, there’s plenty of room on the café’s tables to display centerpieces that give Dot2Dot customers an ample taste of Marina’s designs.
Marina, a Roxbury resident whose kids attend school at Dorchester’s Neighborhood House Charter School, has been in the floral business since 2002— but decided to strike out on her own with a storefront at 1726 Dorchester Ave. last spring.
“I think it’s going to be great,” Marina said of her new operation inside the Dot2Dot Café. “As long as I get the right business hours in place.”
Henry-Garrett says that the partnership with Marina will allow her café to stay open until 4 p.m. each day. The café has traditionally been busiest on the weekends, when locals and fans from other city neighborhoods flock to Dot2Dot for flapjacks, scones and a new offering: flatbread gourmet pizzas. Henry-Garrett hopes that the new florist trade will bring in customers who might also like to sample the café’s offerings. The café frequently hosts special events — including open mics, dinner and movie combos and even plays, including one set for later this month.
Dan Larner, who manages the local Main Streets organization for St. Mark’s Area, said the pairing is a good innovation.
“I was really impressed because it’s a great example of businesses thinking creatively about how to make the best of their situations,” said Larner. “From a consumer standpoint, I think it’s a great combination: food and flowers. The café was already beautiful and having a shop full of flowers makes it even more so.”
The Dot2DotCafe is open at 8 a.m. each morning, except Monday when it is closed all day. The café is offering special gift baskets for Valentine’s Day starting at $15.