Shelter on Van Buren Goes Out of Business Just Before Oxford Film Festival Involvement


If you were to walk down the steps on the side of Neilson’s on the Oxford Square, you’d find the dark and empty Shelter on Van Buren. Just a little over a year after opening, the coffee shop and café has closed its doors. The concept was meant to be unique from other options around town, according to employee Ron Shapiro.

“I stepped away a few months ago when I saw that it wasn’t going in the direction I had hoped for,” Shapiro said. “I would love to keep it going if that is possible. [The Bowies] created a great enviroment and a tremendous hangout that welcomes everyone. I hope that it can remain as a wonderful and necessary addition to the groovy hamlet of Oxford.” 

The establishment was meant to appeal to not only lovers of food and coffee but art as well. Shelter featured local ingredients in its food, art on the walls, and music both live and pre-recorded. In addition to live music, Shelter played host to poetry nights, theater events, and was set to be the site of 25 events from the upcoming Oxford Film Festival. The events will all be moved to the Newks conference room on University Ave. next to the Powerhouse, according to Melanie Addington, executive director of the Oxford Film Festival. While the Film Festival won’t be interrupted by the closing, Addington is disappointed in its closing.

“I am personally devastated about the closing of the Shelter as it was such a warm environment that I loved hanging out at, plus that pimento cheese was the best,” Addington said. “It will be sorely missed and for the Oxford Film Festival, we are so sad to not have this great venue to continue to screen films! We loved working with Lee and Teri [Bowie] on events.” 

Steven Gagliano is a writer for He can be reached at

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