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Art and coffee

Local entrepreneur, artist opens The Mud Shack downtown


November 23, 2008

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    The Mud Shack is Statesboro’s latest addition to the downtown food scene, offering up everything from coffee specialties like “strawberries and cream” frappes to bottled soft drinks and snacks.
    The coffee house/art studio is the brainchild of local artist and entrepreneur Leslie Neville, who wants to offer Statesboro artists a place to consign and showcase their work in a relaxed environment.
    “I had been working — with a degree — in restaurants forever, and had friends doing the same thing,” Neville said. “I wanted to have a place where we could all come together, make our stuff, and sell it … actually use our degrees.”
    Nestled on Courtland Street, visitors to the courthouse and surrounding offices immediately recognize the marigold building as a little something different downtown, despite the absence of a sign on the storefront.
    “It’s the only color building on the street that’s not like a lawyer’s office,” Neville joked.
    The building used to house the Courtland Street Art Gallery, so the location is no stranger to fine art. However, after intensive renovations by Neville, the interior of the building is drastically different.
    “It took us about a month to restore the original wood floors — they were buried underneath layers of carpet, vinyl and nails,” Neville said. “Altogether, it took about a year and a half to renovate the space. We own the building, and knew that we needed to demo and renovate it … and I wanted to get a studio set up.”
    The rear of the business lends itself to a pottery studio, complete a pottery wheel and shelves of different glazes and two kilns under the outside awning of the building.
    Inside, the hip track lighting, exposed brick and ventilation pipes, dark grey walls and black metal tables are a chic, decidedly cool, yet unpretentious setting for a coffee house.
    The platform beneath the store’s huge front window, which Neville said will eventually be used for live music and performance art, currently supports a table and chairs, creating a perfect spot for people-watching. The shelves of hand-thrown pottery and artwork for sale include the works of local artists Barney Durrance and Kevin Benn. The atmosphere is generally cozy, and the many varieties of coffees add to the inviting environment.
    At the moment, snacks including packaged biscotti, chips, and candy are available to munch on, and the coffee selection is sizeable. In addition to regular coffee, the menu includes several kinds of flavored lattes, mochas and frappes, as well as espresso. The prices are reasonable, ranging from $0.55 for an espresso shot to $4 for a 20 oz. specialty drink.
    Though The Mud Shack does not offer lunch at this time, Neville said she plans on creating a lunch menu in the future.
    “I want to offer a simple, sandwich-type lunch, but probably no more than four different types of sandwiches,” she said.
     “This shop expands the art market in the community, and it’s a nice idea to have a central location and a storefront,” Neville said. “Coffee is a kind of noncommittal way to get people to come in, look around hopefully buy some art in the future.”


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