With its clever contrasts, stunning artwork and handcrafted designs, downtown Hickory’s new Crescent Moon Café, located at 256 First Ave. NW is sought out by area residents with a hungry palate for good drinks, food and art. Co-owners Brian Thompson and Andy Thomason opened cafe doors to the public Sept 24. Roughly six years ago, Thompson approached Thomason at his former job with the idea of opening a new bar in the area. Thomason, an artist, graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in art and has been a bartender since then. The hours he works while bartending, he said, are flexible enough to let him work at night while pursuing his love for art during the day. The café features several pieces of art, including oil abstract expressionism paintings by Thomason and photographs by John Mode. Juxtaposed with walls of contrasting navy and gray, the oil paintings radiate bursts of bright colors. “I find I’m most inspired by places I visit and do sketches from,” said Thomason. “These paintings show a loss of reality with crazy colors, and a breakdown of what appears natural.” At the back of Crescent Moon, Thomason crafted a wall made from stacked wood from 90-year-old wooden pieces from a remodeled home in his family. Thomason’s artistic talents are evident throughout the café. The co-owners’ affinity for astronomy led them to agree that a crescent moon could showcase a curved bar shape, equipped to serve beers from all around. With the help of contractor Niles Oliver, the café has a beer island that serves as the crescent monolith of the interior. The bar has a round shape, and the crescent moon is furthermore emitted by artwork, menu items and the atmosphere as a whole. The food menu offers several items that compliment the overall aesthetics, and many of these offerings are named after celestial bodies. For beer enthusiasts, Crescent Moon offers craft brews in several varieties. “The beer island has 27 taps right now, but we have enough space to eventually offer 40 total craft beers,” said Thomason. “I wanted to touch on every market and offer a good beer in every style.” His market expertise comes from experience in bartending, including mixology classes he taught at the Catawba Science Center. The owners have done a wonderful job of catering their food, art and drinks to all types of palates. The menu offers a vegetarian selection, and also affordable sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, hot dogs and appetizers that would appeal to anyone. “I like the Apollo with baked potato salad,” said Jamie Baker, of Hickory. “(The Café) is a good-hearted place with a great beer selection, awesome owners and a wonderful environment … you can’t go wrong with anything you order here.” Baker was referring to upper-quality deli meats and ingredients that give customers several good food options. Local restaurant gurus Chad Davis and Jason Beard helped plan Crescent Moon’s menu. “They have incredible palates and a lot of culinary experience,” said Thomason. Diners find themselves eating on the owners’ handcrafted tables, including a long center table made from black walnut and African mahogany. From Thomason’s paintings to the food and drink menu, to even the tables on which you will dine, the entire interior is a work of art. John Jarrett, of Banner Elk, supports the café and other local businesses. He likes that Crescent Moon offers several quality craft beers and has a menu catering to his taste. To experience what Jarrett and others are raving about, launch your trip to the Crescent Moon Café between its operating hours, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.