Coffee shop and cocktail bar Atlas Grinds has transformed its basement into a vibrant events space for exhibitions, club nights and more.
Run by 29-year-old Daniel Fica, the venue displays work by LGBTQIA+ artists and this refurbishment work, funded by Hackney Council’s High Streets and Town Centres Fund, aims to create a safe, welcoming space for everyone.
Atlas Grinds opened its doors eight-months ago as a laptop-friendly coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar by night. After 14-years working in hospitality, Daniel, who grew up in Slovakia, invested his life-savings in the project. He hopes it will help him pay his way through medical school.
In September he’s going back to university for five years to become a doctor. He already has a degree in pharmacology but, having worked as a barista to pay his way through uni, he stuck with hospitality.
He said: “Now I want to do something that’s intellectually stimulating while helping people. I’ve always wanted to work in emergency medicine. Hospitality is my passion and this way I can build a business for the long-term, give something back to the community and help fund my studies. It is a lot of work but I’ve had time to invest in the team and make sure everyone is properly trained up before I start studying.
“The idea was for Atlas Grinds to be very much within the Queer circle – this is the community that welcomed me in London. Lots of Queer venues are closing – it could be because areas are becoming homogenised and everyone has become very Gay-friendly but for me it’s still important to have defined spaces. Everyone is welcome here.
Atlas Grinds occupies what used to be the Magic Café on Stoke Newington High Street. Events include a regular Queer Cabaret (which Daniel describes as: “a huge sing-along”). The bar has a ‘giddy hour’ with reduced price cocktails from 5pm-7pm most days and it’s licensed until 11pm.
During the day they serve hot drinks, pastries and toasties. Daniel has a strong knowledge of coffee, wine and cocktails. He serves Origin Coffee from a roasters in Cornwall and a brilliant selection of organic wines from Italy, South Africa and England.
He co-founded Atlas Grinds with his partner of six-years film-maker Jamie Rumson.
Explaining the business name, Daniel added: “I’m a huge fan of greek mythology and coffee so figured as Atlas held up the stone boulder we would hold up the cup of coffee: the most important object for us everyday! Our entire mission is to excel when it comes to ingredients and produce so named ourselves after his namesake."