by Steed Dropout
July 12, 2014
You never know when Berkeley’s, sixty year old Caffe Mediterraneum will explode with youth. College-youth from Cal…and today, eight-year-olds from the peninsula.
That You never know who will show may be why Berkeley’s oldest cafe and the first East-Bay baristas, is for sale. You could call the Caffe Mediterraneum a Berkeley coffee-house icon, or you could call it misspelled.
Youth was to have saved the Med.
When the Med doesn’t explode with youth or anyone else, it can be big, cold, and empty. At the moment there are ten customers (room for 100) beneath a 20 foot ceiling. The next moment could bring a rush of youth. Therein lies the rub.
The customer flow is flawed.
Erratic customer flow and a long list of missteps has brought the Med to yet another crisis. This would be its third crisis in 60 years.
In 1992, Roz Gordon, 83, convened a star-studded poetry reading on the Med mezzanine. It wasn’t a fundraiser, but rather a tribute. Everyone thought the Med was dead. In a way, it was dead, if you compare the Med’s successors to the original joint, which ran like a Swiss watch and payed off like a winning lottery ticket.
The ownership change in 1992 from the cafe’s founders to a couple of cooks was perhaps the beginning of the end for the Med.
Brad Cleveland, 83, was there for a local newspaper the day the Med opened in 1957. “Lines reached around the block, and they continued that way for many years,” said Cleveland, adding “it was a place to meet new people because you couldn’t find a seat to yourself.”
Med Heads as we call ourselves are now sitting here all by ourselves wondering what will become of us. Will we be swept aside for something stylish, that gleams, or stuffed and put on display? If swept aside, at least they’ll have to use a broom and that’s good.
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