In Sistrunk, a small neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, workers at a marketing agency and a cafe say they are creating a new culture with a collaborative workspace.
C&I Studios was established in 2006 in Washington D.C. and has spread to North Carolina, California and New York. In 2008, founding director Joshua Miller moved its headquarters to Fort Lauderdale.
“You can’t explain C&I as one thing, you know, it connects to brands and the community,” said Miller.
Next Door at C&I, its collaborative space, debuted in 2013.
A.J. Leigh, a Brew Urban barista of six years, said the neighborhood has grown in recent years. The coffee shop operates in the space during the day.
“There’s always a bit of growing pains when businesses go through something like this,” said Leigh. “But Fort Lauderdale needed it. People didn’t really want to come out here before.”
C&I Studios created a marketing campaign for Brew Urban, including highlighting their siphon brewed coffee.
“I was just really lucky. It was kind of like, ‘Okay guys I have enough money to last a month. We have to make it or we close’,” said Daniel Franklin, who became the owner of the cafe in 2015.
Franklin said it has helped his business grow.
“Wherever else we went for coffee just felt antiseptic and prepackaged,” said Patrick Heffernan, an English teacher who has frequented Brew Urban Café regularly over the last two years.
Franklin said he and his staff take pride in their beverages.
“Making coffee is like a culinary art,” said Franklin. “We take pride in taking raw materials to make something really beautiful.”
Heffernan said the space seems to spark conversation and collaboration.
“You come here for more of the experience,” he said. “Good coffee is just the vehicle for it.”
Next Door at C&I is open seven days a week. After Brew Urban Café closes at 7 p.m., the space reopens as a bar and lounge until 11 p.m.
“It takes a different level of commitment,” said Miller. “[C&I Studios] wants to scream the loudest for the smallest person.”