The Forest Cafe is a volunteer run community arts space in Edinburgh which has existed for nearly nineteen years now (founded August 2000). Officially it is meant to be an arts space, but this activity has been restricted by the current premises (141 Lauriston Place), which are small and don’t allow for much music because of the neighbours. In reality it has become more important as a community space - a living room and relaxed place to meet people without pressure to consume . It’s a place many people can feel comfortable when there is nowhere else they can.
At night in Edinburgh, if you don’t want to go to a pub or a club, the forest is the only place open to the public that I know of. If you want somewhere to drink tea, read, write, use a laptop without someone pouring beer on you, I think it’s all there is. This is especially important for a night owl because without it the options are to be outside (not great in Scottish winter), in a pub (no), or never leave the house. The only other place I have is the Hacklab, but this is not generally open to the public. Also, it might only exist because of the forest anyway - it started there.
Unfortunately being a free space doesn’t make much money, and the place has been slowly dying for a long time. Unless some serious action is taken very soon, it will not exist much longer. We need some immediate fundraising, and to work out how to make such a space work sustainably. There was a public meeting tonight and I expect there will be some more. If you want to help you can contact me, or come to the cafe and speak to whoever is working. Useful skills would include law and accountancy, fundraising, and management of such disorganisations.