The Scarlet Tree was a longstanding Roosevelt Way institution known for its delicious scones, stiff drinks, and smokin' weekend R&B. By day, it catered almost exclusively to Caucasian homemakers and seniors; by night -- on weekends, anyway -- it catered almost exclusively to middle-aged African-American revelers. All told, the Tree was a spectacularly unique, chameleonlike business that inspired both me and my now-boss, Fefer, to entertain writing about the dichotomous scene in long form.
Such hopes were dashed when the Tree was severely damaged in a 2005 fire. For a short while, its owner pledged to reopen it as quickly as possible, but those plans were soon shelved. At that point, virtually everyone, including me, left the Scarlet Tree for dead.
So imagine my surprise when, on a drive to the Little Red Hen for a late Sunday morning loco moco brunch, I rolled by the site of the old AM/PM station near where NE 65th St. passes under I-5 to find a new building with a banner on it announcing that the Scarlet Tree is soon to reopen in that space, which is but a short walk from its original locale. While we're fairly confident they'll be baking their signature scones, it will be interesting to see if the lounge scene will be as vibrant as in the Tree's former life, if there's even a lounge at all. At any rate, taking in this news was tantamount to finding a lost cat after it'd been away from home for four years.