What could make an island of peaceful greenery in downtown Lexington more inviting? How about lunch?
Michler's, the 112-year-old nursery on East Maxwell Street, is putting in an outdoor café.
"Lots of people come, sort of wander in off Maxwell Street and discover an urban oasis," said Robin Michler, the fifth generation of florists to work at the family-owned business. "We decided adding a café is a way people can stay and linger."
Kentucky Native Café will open in the spring and serve food when weather permits, he said. The outdoor café will feature mostly vegetarian fare, with fresh bread, local fruits and vegetables, herbs (which people also can buy in the greenhouse), and craft beer on tap.
"We plan on emphasizing a lot of 'local,'" Michler said. "We do that with our plants — we sell a lot of Kentucky native plants. And we'll emphasize it with our beer and food selection, too."
The beautiful old greenhouses, which contribute to the "urban oasis" atmosphere of Michler's, will still grow and sell plants and Michler's will still do everything from landscaping and garden design to flower arrangements.
The café will add another element, Michler said, with food and art. A tile sculpture by Transylvania art professor Zoe Strecker is to go in alongside an outdoor kitchen designed by University of Kentucky architecture professors David Biagi and David Mohney.
"I think it's turning out pretty neat so far," Michler said. "We're in the process of landscaping, putting in stone paths, places for people to sit, planting shade gardens with native plants. All that's going on this fall."
Michler said they hope to make the café a place people will seek out.
"People can come as a destination, sit outside, and enjoy the landscaping," he said.