Awaiting Awaken Cafe

22 Dec

It’s not often that I get so impatient for something new to open, but awaiting the opening of Awaken Cafe has been driving me a bit crazy lately.

I’m sure part of the explanation is that I pass the cafe at least 10 times per week, as I walk down 14th Street to and from work. Another explanation is that I still miss the Golden Bull, the dive bar that used to occupy the building.

But I think it’s much more than that. Maybe I’m hoping for too much, but the creators of Awaken have captured my attention with their vision for the cafe:

Downtown Oakland can seem like a deserted wasteland after dark despite the presence of a handful of exciting organizations and venues. The Awaken Café will be the hub for an emergence of Oakland as a destination for those seeking community, culture and the arts. We will tie Oakland together through continuously developing and expanding strategic relationships with local business owners, activist organizations, and arts organizations with common interests and pursuits. You will find at our café a space to socialize, exchange ideas, and build lasting social and business networks. As a member of our community, you will be part of the emergence of a new downtown Oakland that is healthy and inviting to all people!

OK, OK, I know it sounds cheesy, but I think they’re on to something. While Uptown is emerging as a viable neighborhood, and Old Oakland and Jack London Square have scenes of their own, the center of Downtown pretty much dies at 5pm. Sure, there are a few great bars and a couple restaurants that stay open, but they’re pretty spread out and there are few people walking around past 6 or 7pm.

I love the idea of anchoring the center of the city with a cafe that also functions as a community center, art gallery, and live entertainment venue. And I think Downtown’s ready for it. I also like the the creators’ focus on being environmentally friendly: they’ll be serving organic coffee, tea and food and focusing on reducing waste, both in construction and on a day-to-day basis.

I got even more excited (and impatient) a couple weeks ago when the cafe’s signs were put up:

Awaken Cafe Sign 1 Awaken Cafe Sign 2

The signs have brightened 14th Street with a touch of Burning Man style, which isn’t surprising, since the cafe’s creators are avid burners.

Awaken’s blog claimed in November that Phase 1 (a smaller version of the full cafe to serve coffee and some food) would open by the end of the year, but this seems unlikely at this point. Still, I’m hopeful that maybe by the time I return to work on January 2nd I’ll have a place to pick up something warm to drink after 5pm. And soon after that, when the full cafe is complete, hopefully we’ll all have much more.


5 Responses to “Awaiting Awaken Cafe”

  1. Cortt Dunlap January 15, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    I recently was searching google for “Awaken Cafe,” and stumbled across your blog posting! I’m one of the founders of the cafe and trust me we’re as impatient as you! It’s taking far longer to open then we projected, and more money. We’re making this thing happen, and we’re pushing hard to get you and the rest of Oakland something warm to drink real soon! Thank you for your continued patience, we know it can be frustrating!

    Cortt Dunlap, Founder
    Awaken Cafe

  2. Becks January 15, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    I completely understand and am not surprised it’s taking longer than expected – it’s a huge endeavor. Any estimate on the opening date?

  3. Cortt Dunlap January 16, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    We’re looking at 4 to 8 weeks for Phase One, the coffee kiosk. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

  4. Becks January 16, 2008 at 6:34 pm #

    That’s exciting – I’ll keep checking in as I pass by.

  5. Drue January 21, 2008 at 8:40 am #

    Cortt – You should consider editing your opening date on your website once again to accurately reflect the new potential opening date. There was a talk thread on Yelp discussing this and there may be some interesting buzz (ie. healthy debate) about the listing for your yet unopened business on the thread in question.

    I think it sounds like an interesting and great concept and will definitely head to the East Bay to check this place out once it opens.

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