GrubStreet, one of the most prominent creative writing centers in the country, has opened a new cafe in Boston’s Seaport District. Fabulist, located on the first floor of the GrubStreet Center for Creative Writing since February, is both a coffee joint where you could lose your day in a book and a space for mingling with a glass of wine after a late-night author reading. It’s also a creative hub for writers to work and collaborate.

“We wanted to have a cafe that could really activate the space and fuel our community of writers and be a center for everyone in the area to come and feel like they have that creative oasis here,” said Sean Van Deuren, director of marketing and communication for GrubStreet.

Profits from Fabulist go directly towards GrubStreet's budget — and its mission of reducing social, financial and cultural obstacles for writers.

“What we are all about is reducing barriers to literary space in the writing room so that anybody who wants to write, or is interested in writing, has the opportunity to,” Van Deuren said. “We want to make GrubStreet a really inclusive, accessible space.”

And the mission of inclusivity is baked into their menu.

Food served at the cafe comes primarily from BIPOC and women-owned food distributors. Coffee is supplied by Recreo Coffee & Roasterie, based in Roxbury. Miriam Morales, who co-founded Recreo with her husband Hector, said having their product in Fabulist is exciting for the family.

This is the interior of a cafe, in the background are coffee, espresso and cappuccino machines. In the foreground is a stainless steel countertop covered with plates and coffee cups.
The coffee bar that serves up coffee and inspiration by way of Grub Street writers' words, which are printed on the front of the counter
Haley Lerner GBH News

“The coffee comes from my dad's farm in Nicaragua,” she said. “So my family grows the coffee and then with my husband we roast [it] right here in the coffee shop. And so to have a local business that it's also family owned, it just feels great that the chain goes from our family to in a business.”

Raymond Berry, founder of Fabulist beer supplier White Lion, said as one of the few Black-owned breweries in the Commonwealth, he’s happy his Springfield-based business could partner with GrubStreet.

“It's rewarding to know that we can work with each other for the greater good,” he said of its goal. “Giving each other brand recognition, customer exposure and showing connectivity and alignment for the greater good of the small business ecosystem in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Somerville-based Buenas provides empanadas served at the cafe. “For the past five years we’ve been trying to bring out empanadas to more people, so it’s really comforting to know that they can fit into a lot of different menus and people seem to love them," said Buenas Founder Melissa Stefanini.

Fabulist, named for the word that means a person who tells fables, is nestled beside the Porter Square Books Boston branch that joined the GrubStreet space in 2021. And true to its name, the design of the cafe is a tribute to the writer’s imagination.

GrubStreet writers were asked to submit their favorite first lines from published works, and those words are printed on the tables and countertops of the space. There are drawings of various creative animals throughout the cafe: a dog getting to work on a typewriter, a lobster hunched over a computer and a bull scribbling away in a journal.

Two cups of cappuccino are on a table that is white, with black writing across it, as if it were a page from a book
At Fabulist the writing is on the wall...and the tables
Haley Lerner GBH News

Among the drinks options at Fabulist are two aptly named literary lattes: The “Antihero” (not affiliated with the Taylor Swift earworm) and “Poetic Justice.”
Fabulist is already fueling authors' literary journeys. Julie Dalton credits her writing career to GrubStreet and its classes — in March, she launched her second novel “The Last Beekeeper” at GrubStreet’s stage space, with the launch party hosted by Fabulist.

“When I did my book launch here, it felt like the whole space was one place, so you could go from the bookstore into where I did my reading and then walk in and get a glass of wine at the cafe and have an empanada,” Dalton said. “It all felt like one creative space together.”

She said Fabulist is a welcoming space for writers.

“I like that GrubStreet is trying to encourage people to be together, not just writing at home in a dark room by themselves,” Dalton said. “Writing can be really lonely if you just stay home and do it all by yourself.”