Last Saturday, one local superhero’s dream became a reality: Lara Americo hosted the grand opening of the shop she founded, Comic Girl Coffee & Books, an inclusive space made by and for queer people, people of color and those looking for a good comic and even better coffee.
With lines out the door and a fervent desire for the Latte of the Day, “The Gay Pride Glitter Bomb,” families, Lara and shop co-owner/co-op member Nada Merghani were slinging lattes faster than a speeding bullet with a caffeine kick more powerful than any locomotive. Customers included cosplayers, families with kids in all manner of Chewbacca and Pikachu garb, and a surprise who’s who of local Charlotte names, including former Republican mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock’s wife, Amy, who popped in for a latte during her relay run in NoDa.
“The purpose of the space is to both educate customers about the issues that marginalized people face and also be a safe space for queer people, people of color and victims of capitalism,” said Americo. “The grand opening proved that our business model is resonating with the community.”
The space is eclectic Brooklyn hangout meets West Coast chill with its vegan drinks and doughnuts, the latter provided by Move That Dough. Nachos, jerk chicken wraps and tofu scrambles are weekend mainstays courtesy of vegan chef Shonda Caines.
Oh, and what exactly is The Gay Pride Glitter Bomb? A vanilla latte with edible rainbow sparkles that’ll remain a specialty drink on the menu along with The Gem Fusion and If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Latte.
My role in a day packed with local live music, cosplay and games: Being the trusty sidekick Robin to Lara’s Superwoman, although I was dressed, per usual, as Wonder Woman.
As the impromptu host of “The Gayest Bingo” while people waited in line, I would be remiss in this First Look without thanking the person who made Bingo happen: Charisma of Target in the Stonecrest Shopping Center. They say Charisma goes a long way, and did she ever: I was passed around to four different people on the phone with Target, and Charisma was the only one to tell me there wasn’t a Bingo set on the floor, and she would go in the back room to find one and call me back. She actually did, and that’s what makes her a Marvel with a capital M.
At night, drag queen EevèE Rubii Jonez came out to (cos)play, along with other live musical performances from Jacob “Charlotte’s Darling” Taylor, Gullible Boys from Asheville and hip-hop artists Nigel Hood and Juan Hoozy.
The grand opening isn’t the only time Comic Girl Coffee will host events: Every Thursday, folks can wield their best creature cards in Magic the Gathering tournaments. Friday is dedicated to activism, where the community can reserve space to hold their events. Saturday and Sunday is for vegan brunch and whatever’s on the schedule that night.
The shop is a living, breathing entity, and that’s how Americo wants to keep it.
“Comic Girl Coffee belongs to the community,” she says. “The direction belongs to them.”
Editor’s note: Joanne Spataro is engaged to Lara Americo, but as we all know, she wouldn’t tell you something was a good thing unless it actually was a good thing.
Hours: Thursday-Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: 516 E 15th St #13a, Charlotte, NC 28206
Photos: Joanne Spataro and Lara Americo