Zocalo Coffeehouse, a small independent café and roastery, has been holding strong as a staple café in San Leandro for 18 years. Originally "Dean's Beans," the spot was founded with the purpose of fostering the connectedness and community building that happens in a Third Place -- those spaces away from work and home that facilitate broader, spontaneous, and creative human interaction. Unfamiliar with the movement? Read Bowling Alone.
The café held fast until this past September, when the company lost its lease and almost moved, only to be saved when employee Sara Ubelhart took over the space and completed lease negotiations in October But that's not all. In another tough twist, the city's latest inspection turned up a bevy of projects that required updating before the spot could secure permits. This week, they've partnered with Credibles to launch a funding campaign to pay for the unexpected costs. It's like a CSA for a coffee shop, garnering the company the upfront capital it needs to grow or survive, offering funders edible credits -- Credibles -- or the promise of goods in equal value (and then some). In a way, like a delayed tab system. While their doors are still closed and the shop continues to work on funding, they'll be popping up in Memorial Park on Saturdays. To buy in and help out, check out their Credibles page.
In other news, when Monkey Forest Road café closed last month, Doug Washington started plotting. Washington -- a partner in Town Hall, Salt House, and Anchor & Hope -- has lately made a business of redesigning and resuscitating existing restaurants, but in the case of MFR, that old Balinese art house/coffee shop mashup, plans are sounding to be a much larger overhaul. As rumor has it, in the same building as Charlie Hallowell's newly-opened Penrose, Washington is looking to open a whole marketplace that retails everything from cheese to ice cream to pastries to bread. Coffee on deck will be supplied by Linea Caffe, and there will also be beer stations. We'll miss hunting for weird, wooden Indonesian phallic statues, and the ever excellently curated coffee selection that made if one of the most reliable spots in town, we've got faith something good is brewing here.
Finally, as of this morning, the lately-desolate I. Magnin building in Uptown Oakland is inflating with life again with the official opening of Tierra Mia Coffee's second NorCal location. The opening is part of the company's rapid expansion out of L.A., capitalizing on a kind of unique, broad coffee philosophy that blends all the purism of the third wave with all the unpretentious ingenuity of schools more liberal with flavoring . Sprudge http://sprudge.com/tierra-mia-coffee-expands-oaklands-uptown-neighborhood.html has the word that the café is bringing in everything from fancy finds like Geisha (rare and delicious coffee varietal) from Hacienda La Esmeralda to sweeter staples like Horchata Frappes. The menu itself straddles the threshold between the purist Third Wave and the flavors that populate its big chain counterparts. It's some of the world's best coffee, adapted for a Latino palate -- hence the horchata, and something called the Mocha MexicanoUptown Oakland, you're getting kinda jazzy.