I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

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02 March 2006

New Café

We have some friends who just opened a café in our neighborhood. This is a good thing. We have several sub shops, an art film theater, a Hip Hip clothiers, two hairdressers, but no café. On rare occasions, I have taken the girls for a morning at Starbucks. We either write or read, listen to funky music, and drink a frothy concoction. But Starbucks, despite having been started by a handful of cool Stanford grads, has become too much of a convention. Plus, we have to drive to it. So a neat new place to go, within walking distance, sounds about perfect.

On Tuesday night, the Consort and I went to their pre-opening party. Free food, free drinks, lots of body heat, and many wooden tables and chairs. Not bad (except for the body heat part). Now, let me share the menu with you: organic and fair trade coffees and teas (great!), from-scratch pastries and tortes (alright!). Sounds perfect. But then, wait a sec, we also see wine, international beer, and microbrews (oooookay), as well as hummus and artisanal cheeses (errrr…).

And the hours? 6:30 am to 11 pm. Seven days a week.

Now, I do not consider myself a business genius. (Honestly, I don’t consider myself a genius at anything… Well, only rarely… and I always deserve it…) But doesn’t this business plan strike anyone else as a bit overextended? Whatever happened to that old chestnut, “know your niche”? Is it no longer a chestnut?

And that’s not all! I peeked in on their first morning. Let’s support local business, right? I ordered a loose-leaf ginger tea. Cool, they spoon it in your very own mesh bag, right in front of your eyes! $1.75—$1.86 with tax (not bad, not bad). I only had a twenty dollar bill on me, and “Well, umm, let me see if I’ve got change in my wallet,” says the owner. He doesn’t. The cash register doesn’t. He hands a $20 bill back to me. I push it back—I came in here to support local business, not get free handouts! I see a $10 bill. I suggest that he give me $10 back and the rest will be a tab they can start for me. OK. So he writes on a piece of paper “Imperatrix: TAB: $10”. But wait, I note, it isn’t $10 anymore, because I’ve bought the tea, right? “Oh yeah!” and he painstakingly does long-hand math and lets me know that I have $8.14 still on the tab.

It’s the first day of business. Even regular folks having garage sales know to start out the day with plenty of change, don't they? At least, that's been my experience.

I sure hope this business venture flies.

But I better get the girls in there soon and use up my tab. Just in case.