Welcome, one and all, to the opening of The Emu Café.  In this special establishment of The New Leaf Journal, we serve only the finest descriptions of coffee, tea, and snacks to accompany.  After you brew and procure your own, enjoy the lively discourse about aesthetics and the life lived well.  The ambiance is always peaceful.  Light flits through the windows such that, while indoors, the particular sensibilities of the days and seasons permeate the establishment.  The traits of the seasons are most crisp in the refreshing mornings.  Hours pass by slowly, like a reverie, in the bold colors of the afternoon.  Lovers of elegance and wisdom are all in accord that the Moon, embroidered in the starlight curtains, as seen through The Emu Café’s window, is indeed beautiful.

Scene depicting The Merchants' Coffee House in the late 18th century, which was situated between Wall and Water Streets in Manhattan. Drawing from the 1915 book Old Taverns of New York by Bayles W. Harrison.
Scene depicting The Merchants’ Coffee House in the late 18th century, which was situated between Wall and Water Streets in Manhattan. Drawing from the 1915 book Old Taverns of New York by Bayles W. Harrison. The Emu Café faithfully reproduces the ambiance in the picture. Please note that powdered wigs are neither encouraged nor discouraged.

Pull up a chair, rest your hands on our round rosewood tables, and hear more about The Emu Café.

Why the Emu?

Years ago, too long ago, I met my future colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, after he had completed a long day not being selected to serve on a jury.  Exhausted and delirious, he exclaimed on an escalator:  “I don’t like your emu and I don’t have to eat it; but you can keep the sofa.”  Never before had I heard someone articulate the state of complete enervation in such a moving way.

Clip of the Century Dictionary page containing the definition of "emu." There is a sketch of an emu eating in between the two halves of the definition.
The proprietor of the establishment submits a photo with definition – courtesy of The Century Dictionary.

We thought about creating different projects based on the emu quote.  Alas, our planned adventures in post-apocalyptic literature never came to pass.  After we solidified the idea for The New Leaf Journal, it seemed natural that the emu should be a part.  The question of how the emu should feature, however, remained open.

Why a Café?

The New Leaf Journal, by its very nature, is a general writing site.  Given that it has no single topic, our original ideas for the emu would be mere surplusage, even if we were inclined to complete the same project we contemplated more than a decade ago.  Thus, having turned over a new leaf, we sat on the sofa we kept, left the emu un-devoured, and pondered its role in our new endeavor.

Clip of the Century Dictionary definition of coffee beans with an illustration of a coffee plant.
The coffee beans at The Emu Café are always fresh.

We came to think that perhaps the emu could exist in a corner of the broader New Leaf Journal.  The site itself is designed to host content with which readers can meaningfully engage during the day.  We therefore conceived of a café – The Emu Café – within that schema.  While the larger site would host variety content that readers could enjoy on break, The Emu Café would host certain kinds of content and discussions to enjoy with good food and drinks.

Clip of the Century Dictionary definition of tea with its original illustration of tea leaves.
The teas of The Emu Café bloom when seeped.

While we were satisfied with the café concept, we had yet to decide what kind of content goes best with the fine coffee, tea, and food that would be offered at The Emu Café.

Clip of a sketch of creamed eggs on toast from the Cookery for Little Girls cookbook.
Our creamed eggs on toast, courtesy of Cookery For Little Girls

Why Aesthetics and the Life Lived Well?

We sat and pondered what the theme of The Emu Café should be. Then, the proprietor of The Emu Café, the resilient flightless bird himself, recalled a quote from Eryximachus from Plato’s Symposium:

Let us seek our entertainment in conversation. I am ready, if you so desire, to suggest what sort of discussion it should be.

-The Emu. Quoting Eryximachus from Plato’s Symposium, Fowler Tr.

Not one of us objected, and we bade the Emu to make his proposal.  Thus, the Emu proceeded to set the agenda.  “I resolve that nothing should go better with good coffee and tea than pleasant conversations about aesthetics and the life lived well.”  Finding the Emu’s sentiments agreeable, I replied that “no one will vote against you:  I do not see how I myself could decline.”

With all in agreement, the agenda was set.  The drinks are ready, the food is set, and the amiable discourse is about the beautiful and the good.

Sketch of an emu from a 1901 edition of the Australian Ornithologists Union journal.
The proprietor returns home after a long day of work: Snippet from a 1901 edition of The Emu: Official Organ of the Australasian Ornithologists’ Union.

Thank you for joining us. We hope you stop by from time to time.

May 15, 2022 Update: I replaced all the images in the article with optimized versions – reducing the weight of the page. In so doing, I moved a couple of the images over one line. Other than these changes, this article remains unchanged from its aesthetic original publication in 2020.