Road Trip: Rachael’s Cafe in Bloomington

Here’s a coffeehouse with great stage presence.

For six years, Rachael’s Cafe has exuded a classic warm, bohemian coffeehouse vibe near downtown Bloomington, with mismatched chairs, paper lanterns, poetry readings, and live music. It’s a welcoming and inclusive place, says owner Rachael Jones, who opened the little brick spot back when she was struggling to find work as a transgender woman. “I didn’t think Southern Indiana was ready for that,” says the open and engaging Jones—a former churchgoing, motorcycle-riding, 6-foot-tall salesperson named Eric. Yet, in addition to becoming a beloved hangout for IU faculty and graduate students, Rachael’s Cafe has built a new fan base across the pond, thanks to a play by the same name that debuted at the Edinburgh fringe festival in 2011 and had a run at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London that ended this past March.

Former IU English exchange student Lucy Danser wrote and directed the one-person show that focuses on Jones, her mores-bending life in mid-America, and the cafe whose sign proclaims “everyone welcome at our table.” The production is currently in Kickstarter mode for future runs. “Our main interest at the moment is bringing the play to Indiana,” Danser says. As for Jones’s eclectic, daily-changing menu of specials like homemade lasagna, coconut curry over brown rice, and gluten-free quiche, devotees can catch that act seven days a week—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 300 E. 3rd St., Bloomington, 812-330-1882,
This article appeared in the July 2014 issue.