Molly Alexander: The Five Question Interview

Molly Alexander and her partner Gary Luedecke opened the doors at The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods Store in late 2012 and it quickly became a gathering place for Elginites and visitors alike. After such a wonderful response from the community they opened G&M Drygoods just down Main Street. Both shops are mainstays in our community and Elgin’s Main Street. Molly lives in downtowm Elgin with her two cats Moby and Jacques.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved from Dallas, TX to Elgin in June, 1990 to become Elgin’s Main Street Manager.  I fell in love with the community immediately and am proud to call it my home.

2.  What compelled you to create a business in Elgin?

Everyone in town wanted a healthy, vibrant downtown full or retail shops and restaurants.  In 2012 Gary and I had what we thought was a great retail business idea and we believed change needed to start with us so we decided to open The Owl.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

  • Being outdoors brings me great joy and is part of my mental and physical well-being.  I have learned how to paddle board and adore being on the water! We also bought 10 acres of land near Elgin and I love, love, love walking among the pine and oak trees, listening and watching the birds, coyotes and other wildlife.
  • It’s time to finish our home projects so we can enjoy some downtime. Gary and I have spent the past 8 years building The Owl and G&M DRGYOODS. In our free time we have worked renovating our home in Galveston. It is time to finish our Galveston house so we can enjoy visiting the island and all it has to offer!
  • I miss my closest friends!  With covid-19 I miss hanging with my closest friends, getting hugs and catching up in person.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I just finished Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, a great book about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I am currently watching Man in the High Castle on Prime and I am listening to some of my favorite records – Dina Washington, Cat Stevens and Miles Davis.  When it comes to making – Gary and I are building a downstairs apartment in our Galveston home, building an outdoor shower at our new property and I am working to finish remodeling my building in Elgin.

5. Cake or Pie?

I have celiac disease so either if it is gluten-free!  Give me a great flourless chocolate cake, or a tart lemon or cherry pie! 

The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods + G&M Dry Goods
@elginowlstore
@gmdrygoods


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Karen Bernstein: The Five Question Interview

Karen Bernstein is producer/director with a long list of biographical documentaries of arts icons and cultural events to her name. Her work includes documentaries for American Masters and Independent Lens, and her latest film I’m Gonna Make You Love Me was included in SXSW2020 virtual festival earlier this year.

She lives in historic downtown Elgin with her son Joseph, five dogs, and takes care of nine cats.

The Open Room. Photo by Veronica Ortuño

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved to Elgin three years ago because of Margo Sawyer, the artist who has been in Elgin for close to twenty years.  She sold me what I know call The Open Room at 117 Central.  I had known Margo since moving to Austin from NYC in 2000.  A good friend had visited me in Austin and I had brought her to visit Margo since they’d both been at graduate school together in the 1980s. Margo mentioned that the space next to hers’ was up for rent with an eye to sell.  I had just ended a love relationship in Austin and had to move out, so Elgin seemed like the perfect distance from old memories.  That same day that my friend and I visited Margo Sawyer three (3) years ago, we went to the Depot Museum and met Anne.  She sealed the deal on moving to Elgin.  I found her to be so smart and the history of the area was compelling.  By the time we actually moved into The Open Room, she had passed away, and that’s continued to sadden me.

Guests at our film series at The Open Room during Elgin Art Studio Tour. Photo by Veronica Ortuño

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I have no choice!  I wish there were a button to decrease the amount of creative impulses and increase the pragmatic ones.

Screengrab from Etsy.com: “No Place Like Here – Marfa, TX”

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

  1. Stop eating so much bacon and slow down on salt 
  2. Drink coconut water every day and stay hydrated
  3. Adobe Creative Cloud

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Too much to list here in a coherent way but the top tier of creative projects is as follows:  finding a distributor for my documentary feature film, i’m gonna make you love me, finishing three (3) short videos on the history of Elgin, finishing the short film about my mother who died with Alzheimer’s disease (La vie en Rose), finishing all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, listen to opera more often, learn to play piano, figure out how to show films free of charge on the outside of my building.

Screengrab from “Ella Fitzgerald – Something to Live For

5. Cake or Pie?

Definitely pie — apple, please

Bernsteindocumentary.com
The Open Room


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Monica Nava-Barker: The Five Question Interview

photo credit: @viralmediausa

Monica is owner of Chemn Cafe on Main Street in historic downtown Elgin. She opened her doors in July 2019 and has already established herself and Chemn Cafe as a mainstay in our community. She features locally made goodies when she can, and collaborates with her neighboring businesses. The cafe’s bright and inviting decor is inspired by classic educational design… think chemistry class, with its beakers, dark countertops, and periodic tables.

During this time of Covid-19 she has remained opened by providing take out and curbside ordering, and encouraging guests to wear masks and social distance while in the cafe. She also recognized the need for certain hard to get items such as milk, eggs, and even toilet paper, and has them available for her guests to pick up with their lattes.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved from Austin after I became engaged to my now-husband, Emzy, who grew up in Elgin.

2. What compelled you to create a business in Elgin?

I knew that I would eventually become a small business owner someday; after a year of hating the commute to Austin, being injured at work, and then the company I worked for closing, it was time to decide what business venture was closest to my heart. I’ve always wanted a coffee shop of my own, so thus began the journey forward. 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Family is everything, and having really wonderful people in your corner will inevitably help your success.  

Being forgiving is easier than you think, and will make you happier.  

Believe not only in yourself, but trust your instincts as well.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I don’t enjoy cooking after working very long days (and wasn’t a big fan to begin with) but I do enjoy making new drink ideas for the shop. 

I like to read a little of everything that I can quickly skim through to be caught up in current affairs, so Facebook and Twitter are my go-to. 

I watch things that are entertaining to me albeit a little ‘weird’; I am currently watching The Blacklist, 13 Reasons Why, Dr. Pimple Popper, and Cooked with Cannabis (Netflix/Hulu) but am open to anything. 

I listen to NPR in the car and Spotify most of the day, everything from Bach to Post Malone, from Queen to Willie Nelson. 

5. Cake or Pie?

Oh my! Pie!

Visit Chemn Cafe at:

114 Main Street
Elgin, Texas 78621
(512) 827-9747

Instagram @chemncafe
Website chemncafe.com


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