LARRY L. KUBERT FOR L MAGAZINE
Melinda and Amanda Martinson look at each other…a bit quizzically…a slight wry tilt towards their mouths.
The couple – Melinda (mother) and Amanda (daughter) – are co-owners of Crescent Moon in the Haymarket district. The question that precipitated the look was, “What is Crescent Moon?”
Amanda takes a breath and responds somewhat disconcertingly, “We’ve been trying to figure this out for 10 years.”
While customers have always been able to make themselves a cup of steaming coffee or fragrant tea, the establishment has changed a bit in its almost 21 years of existence.
Originally opened by former Lincoln singer/songwriter Terri Jo Dodson in the Haymarket neighborhood in 2001, Crescent Moon moved to the Veith Building on the north side of P Street between Eighth and Ninth Streets in 2005. When Dodson decided to sell the cafe in 2007, the Martinsons bought it.
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While Melinda and Amanda found the yard adjoining their business to be ideal in good weather, not so much in winter. The couple also found the size of the shop restrictive and limiting for customers and the focus on local music which was pioneered by Dodson and continued by the Martinsons.
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In 2010, Crescent Moon and the Martinsons crossed P Street and into a lower level location. They spent a month remodeling the space, which was tucked away and somewhat devoid of foot traffic. But that changed, and in June of that year, Crescent Moon reopened.
“The space had no running water and had garish fluorescent lighting and more,” Melinda explains. “But we saw the potential and learned some lessons. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.
The atmosphere at Crescent Moon is warm, cozy, and welcoming, surrounded by exposed brick walls with art.
The Martinsons continued their commitment to Lincoln’s creative community, and Crescent Moon is known for its Open Mic Nights, which begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday nights are for writers and poetry, with Thursdays featuring songwriters and Fridays focusing on bands and live music. The store also participates in the city’s First Friday Art Walk. Additionally, Amanda said Thursday mornings have become a time for informal discussions about business and technology.
Amanda said it’s fun to watch and be a part of the variety of people who attend the various Open Mic parties. “We are always packed on those nights. It just wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t able to serve those particular communities.
The demographics of the shop change throughout the day – professionals and people who live in the city center in the mornings, with mostly students studying in the afternoons and creatives in the evenings. Crescent Moon also has a private room for private/informal events such as book clubs, graduation parties or engagements. “It’s like a customer lifecycle,” says Melinda.
The shop serves a variety of single-origin and locally roasted coffees, loose leaf teas, specialty espresso drinks, regional craft beer, wine and cocktails. Its menu offers made-to-order pancakes, panini sandwiches and homemade pastries.
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Five panini sandwiches are on the menu – Grilled Cheese ($5.50), Turkey and Cheese ($5.50), Ham and Cheese ($5.80), Turkey Caprese (turkey, basil pesto, mozzarella and roma tomatoes , $6) and Veggie (green peppers, onions, mozzarella, basil pesto, roma tomatoes, basil and oregano, $6).
A choice of five sweet crepes and three savory crepes are available for diners – Powdered Sugar ($3.50), Cinnamon Sugar ($3.50), Nutella Banana ($6), Strawberry Banana ($5.50 $), Strawberry Nutella ($6.50), Egg and Cheese ($6.50), The Works (onions, peppers, eggs and cheese, $7.20) and Green Eggs and Ham (eggs, cheese, smoked ham with cherries, basil pesto and roma tomatoes, $8.50).
According to the Martinsons, the Green Eggs and Ham pancake and Turkey Caprese panini are customer favorites.
Fresh pastries, including scones, muffins, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and bars, cost between $2 and $4. Coffee and tea drinks range from $4 to $5.50.
According to Melinda, Crescent Moon is a kind of home for people…nice. Amanda adds that customers will enjoy a great atmosphere with food and drinks to match.
What is the Crescent Moon? “A social center with a bit of everything,” according to the Martinsons.
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