Saturday, June 26, 2010

Original Peet's

The very first Peet's sits at the southwest corner of Walnut and Vine. Not long ago, it was finally remodeled - they installed a small museum behind the counter. (I still haven't seen it). They also added tables and chairs, inside and out, so you see the usual hangers-on, banging on their laptops with plugs in their ears. There used to be a Starbucks in the Dead Center at the southwest corner of Shattuck and Cedar (so named because it was formerly a funeral home). One reason it closed was the inordinate number of people sitting around nursing cold cups of coffee. The Peet's remodel is pretty good - much of the feel of the old place is intact. Peet's is a scene that starts early and stays late. I've never tried to parse who goes when. Like other public establishments in Berkeley, it has its street musician (a woman in overalls who plays the banjo and sings) and a tall man who now arrives on crutches. (See photo.) There used to be a slightly crazy but harmless man who stood across the street, but I haven't seen him lately. (A long time ago, there was a man who stood silently out front. I saw him later, back to normal. I think he might have been on a spiritual quest, but this is just a guess.) There's a chess-, radio-, and guitar-playing contingent who use the front steps of the Friends meeting house and a concrete indent along the west side of the Mormon church. (Both face Peet's.) The service at the original Peet's is more efficient than Peet's in San Francisco, perhaps as a reaction to the customers (to judge from the drinks line). Mr. Peet died a year or two ago. He taught the people who started Starbucks (although they must have skipped a few lessons), which suggests a generous spirit. RIP.

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