The travesty of Caffe Verona
Original post made
by Danny, Crescent Park,
on Aug 8, 2006
The empty husk of a building that used to be Caffe Verona frightens me. I walk by and expect bats to fly out of the doorway, or the sound of rattling chains to be heard echoing from the frigid oven. I miss their quiche, their warmth, their music. And now all that remains of a once boisterous enery is faded signs and wind-blown trash.
What I wouldn't give for a new deal. For a landlord that could negotiate and a company that could succeed. For a way to turn that place back into something worthwhile.
Either that, or coax tourists by claiming it a legitimate haunting.
Personally, I'd rather be able to shop or eat there. I've never really been one for ghosts.
Posted by Jimmy
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 10, 2006 at 12:39 am
The empty building that was Verona Cafe is a bit depressing, but it also holds hope. Hope that maybe other restaurants will take note, and no restaurant which does not actually cook the food we order, when we actually order it, will occupy the space on Hamilton. I am sorry, but in my humble opinion, Verona Cafe epitomized the very antithesis of what a restaurant should be. The food, including the quiche, lasagna, sandwiches, etc. were mostly made the morning before (sometimes even the day before) and microwaved for your dining pleasure. The first (and only) time I ate there the staff even microwaved my soup... can you believe that?
For me, Cafe Verona was a microcosm of everything that should not be in life: A place where our dinner is pre-made or bought from a factory, then nuked for our dining pleasure (this is not a restaurant); Customers who are blissfully ignorant and do not even know, do not care enough about what they eat to know to ask, cannot even tell while eating it, or worse yet, they do know, but do not care... that their food is pre-prepared (often from a factory or contract caterer) then microwaved; Proprietors who do not at all care about quality or the integrity of what they are serving us, but instead wrap it in a pseudo-trendy atmosphere with open mic nights and artist showings -- All flash no substance; People who care more about the "hipness" of a restaurant than the quality of what they are feeding their children; That some of us went to this place ignoring establishments that actually care about what they serve us and make everything from scratch; Exemplifying mass ignorance local newspapers wrote reviews and called it good food, even stated it had an "international crowd"... give me a break, this is Palo Alto, what restaurant does not have an international crowd?
We have so many excellent restaurants in the downtown area, which really do care about the quality their food and provide meals which are fresh, made then and there, slow cooked, and using quality ingredients. From the reasonably priced -- Pluto, Andale, Zao, The Creamery, etc. The moderately priced -- St. Michael's Alley, Siam Royal, University Coffee Cafe, La Morenita, etc. To the upscale casual-- Three Season's, Mandarin Gourmet, Empire Grill, NOLA, etc. Finer dining -- Mantra, Maddalena's/Cafe Fino, Spago, Evvia, etc. Amazing coffee houses -- Cafe del Doge, The Prolific Oven, Coupa, Peet's, etc. And even organic - The Bay Leaf Cafe, Whole Foods Market Cafe, etc. With all these great choices, I cannot bring myself to mourn the loss of a "microwave" restaurant. Sorry if I left some other great restaurants out, only so much space and time.
The travesty of Cafe Verona is that they got away with pushing low quality junk for as long as they did. The travesty is that while they served food prepared the same way you can get it at a 7/11, they still managed to have a customer base, and many great quality restaurants in our downtown have left us over the last several years. Let us not forget our fallen friends: The Good Earth, Higashi West, L'Amie Donia, Perry's, STOA, etc.
Apparently enough people realized Cafe Verona to be what it was, and sales was not strong enough to support the business. This is life in a free market economy. My hope is that we keep weeding out the undesirables and maintain a base of good quality restaurants owned and run by people who actually care as much or more the integrity and substance of what they serve as they do about the flash. My hope is we support the existing fantastic restaurants in our downtown area, which have given so much back to the community over the years, and not worry about bringing in new venues.
Maybe the city, instead of bringing up the loss of Cafe Verona in council meetings, can discuss potential positive uses for the space and possibly lease it from the owner. Seems it would be a great location for a visitor's center type facility. Perhaps an information desk, or even a police "box" similar to other cities internationally, or a combination of both, and some large public washrooms which the downtown area is sorely lacking.
Just food for thought, and my own, humble opinion.