Zebulon cafe reopens after ‘hibernation’

aspecht@newsobserver.comAugust 16, 2013 

— Sana Hussain can now say she told you so.

When Hussain closed her downtown Zebulon cafe, Eclectic Intellectual, in January 2012, townsfolk naturally wondered whether she was another victim of the tough economy.

Hussain insisted personal reasons – not financial hardship – were causing her to close Eclectic’s doors for “hibernation.”

On Wednesday, she proved the closure was temporary. A little after 10 that morning, Hussain’s father Syed unlocked the front doors at 120 N. Arendell Ave., heated some water, and plugged in the open sign in the front window.

“Can I get you a coffee?” he asked the first person to walk in the store.

Eclectic – which sells Larry’s Beans organic coffee, jewelry, tobacco and beer – is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays.

Kim Valentine, executive director of the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce, said the reopening is “good for everyone” in the business community because it proves Hussain’s location wasn’t the problem.

“The nice thing about Eclectic is the hours were open later,” Valentine said. “(Hussain) has a shop that’s very unusual for Zebulon because it features local artists’ work, has open-mic night on the weekends, and also had game nights for families.

“It really gave the community a place to go,” Valentine said.

Hussain, 28, opened Eclectic in October 2010. While running the business single-handedly, she also worked to complete a master’s degree in biology. As her thesis, Hussain wrote a lab manual on microbial source tracking. She published the manual in December 2011. Soon after, Hussain received “multiple” job offers from businesses in Research Triangle Park, she said.

“I couldn’t work in RTP and keep Eclectic open,” Hussain said.

She considered selling Eclectic, but never found the right match.

“Zebulon is such a friendly, talkative community, but people I talked to were more interested in money, and it just didn’t feel right,” she said. “I had a hard time letting it go and I really didn’t want to.”

In January, she learned she didn’t have to. Hussain’s parents said they’d help her out manning the store.

“So they’re doing most of the legwork now, but I’m still doing the organizing,” she said.

Hussain has expanded Eclectic’s jewelry, tea and beer offerings. The cafe now sells more than 50 types of beer, along with tobacco, hookahs and oil lamps.

“And if a customer tries 20 different beers, they get $10 credit,” she said.

She hopes that the new deals might bring downtown shoppers out of hibernation, too.

Specht: 919-829-4826

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