Left Bank Cafe right on track

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 17, 2008

ASHLAND, Ky. — It’s a little bit of Paris in the Tri-State.

The Left Bank Caf/, located in the Pendleton Arts Center, goes with a French theme as homage to the City of Lights and the area that is France’s artistic center.

“And if you are going down the Ohio River, Ashland is on the left bank,” said Gary Preston of Proctorville, who runs the caf/. “The Left Bank just seemed like a good name.”

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He is also one of the 36 artists who have a workspace in the center. He is a wood sculptor, dulcimer maker and a painter who is currently focusing on working with oils.

He says running the caf/ doesn’t interfere with his creative process.

“Doing something like this,” he said pointing to a landscape resting on an easel. “It can be tedious work. So I’ll work on something until it gets to be too much and then switch. I find it really helpful being able to do different things because you don’t get overwhelmed, you can’t get bored.”

Preston was among the first groups of artists to take a studio in the renovated building in 2005. When the woman who ran the caf/ decided to give it up, Preston took it over.

The caf/ is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., which works well for him.

“In the morning while I getting things ready to go, I’ll paint a little bit and then after it closes, I paint all afternoon,” he said.

The caf/ has coffee, espresso, Chai tea and a food menu with sandwiches and paninis that Preston has come up with.

“Pretty much every thing we do, we try to keep it related to art,” Preston said.

“I make the dressings myself,” he said. “It’s my own recipes. Everybody seems to love the paninis.”

All the soups are homemade and coffee beans can be ground to order.

He is working on adding a new variety of paninis and alter the menu.

“It’s good to change it up and experiment,” he said.

The caf/ also offers free WiFi access so people can work or check out the Internet while they eat.

He said the caf/ is busiest on Fridays when his musician friend Roger Smith comes in to play.

He said that he considering taking out one of the big windows and replacing it with a pass-thru window so people can walk up and order food and then eat outside at the caf/ tables they put out in the summer.

“We want to build up the outdoor part of the caf/,” he said.