Center of gravity 

It’s the European way: Walk into a café, order an espresso, scan the fresh art on the walls … scab your skin with some body art. It’s the leisurely way that Nucleus — a three-month-new coffeehouse-tattoo parlor-art gallery — has opened up shop in Harmonie Park. Co-owners Raven and Vato aren’t intending to influence social structure downtown. But located in the heart of a historical art hub, these two entrepreneurs have already swung their door open to casino employees, Tigers fans, local loft dwellers and one Red Wing player. Prospective tattooing clientele enjoy the chance to chill and browse through art before leaping into the leather chair, while thirsty conservatives get to see that parlors aren’t as seedy as they seem in the movies.

The two boys serve bean juice every day beginning at 7 a.m. (staying open till midnight on weekends). They tattoo daily, pierce on Saturdays and cycle through art shows every month. There’s been talk of scheduling a video-film night, poetry readings and possibly even coordinating a Harmonie Park art fair. In true community spirit, the coffeehouse also sells Pure Detroit clothing designed by fellow creative spirit and neighboring retail owner, Shawn Santo. Lately, the place has been swelling with after-theater crowds who’ve walked some 25 yards from a Tony ’n’ Tina’s Wedding production at the Center Street Pub. And still, while all this action is revolving around Nucleus — at the Tigers’ den, the money dens, local drinkers’ dens and elsewhere — Raven and Vato sit surrounded by pictures, chatting with anyone, drawing up body art and serving beverages. Unknowingly, they’re quenching a thirst for more than a SoBe or latte — for a return to harmony among the diverse people in the park. Check it out at 237 E. Grand River Ave., or call the coffeehouse at 313-962-8286 for more info.

Rebecca Mazzei is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail her at

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