Walking down to our local cafe the other day, I was a bit shocked when two strangers were standing behind the counter manning the coffee machine and working the grill. So shocked, that I stood there, mouth gaping a little, eyebrows frowning while I contemplated the scene in front of me. Hang on a second, this wasn’t right…who are you? Where’s Anthony? Which is what I blurted out. (Not the who are you, but where’s Anthony?) He sold up and we have taken over…*gasp!*…oh, I meekily said and muttered something about a latte and I would sit in the back. Sitting there mulling over what I had just been told, I phoned Mr Chocolate straight away and told him…*gasp!* He did what?!
Our favourite local cafe owner had sold and up and buggered off. Not a word, not a whisper and as I sat there trying to gather some thoughts, I was gutted. Mr Chocolate was gutted…The Monkeys would be gutted. Why? Not because I was a daily cafe frequenter and should have put up a little plaque in my honour on a chair, but because we genuinely loved the guy. He made the cafe.
Simple, tasty food, small setting. People came back because Anthony made you smile, he remembered your name. He knew what you drank. He was my foodie sounding board. The Monkeys adored him and would always run over and say hello regardless of whether we were buying anything. For 3 years this was our local. This was a place where I could study undisturbed for an hour sitting on one coffee, a place where my grandparents were introduced, Mr Chocolate and I had discussed any home issues at a back table, (when The Monkeys were being entertained elsewhere) milkshakes had been slopped by inexperienced child hands, biscuits handed out generously. It was OUR cafe and Anthony an important part of that sweet blend. THE important part of it.
But not any more. Two strangers stood before me, dishing out coffees and explaining the changes they had made to people coming and asking where Anthony was.
This got me thinking….How important are cafes within our community. For inner city living, the cafe culture is alive and strong. Weekends are full of streetside cafes, takeaway coffees a must and many a meal taken up in cafe. These cafes serve as meeting places, appealing to the family for a special treat out, friends meeting up, and singles seeking some alone time. With the absence of backyards for many inner city living people, this is a way of life. For many, if you are living in a small household like a flat in the city, you can be quite restricted with space. As our urban population increases, so will that high density living and lack of space.
If you want to go some where else, the options aren’t huge. The park, a bar, the beach or a cafe. I do my fair share of parks and beach, bars don’t appeal, so for a little me time now and again that hour in a cafe is gold. Pure gold.
There is something really inviting about going somewhere, where you are greeted warmly by name. Your coffee is being made without having said a word, and the conversation is easy. It’s hard to find that. It’s almost like an extension of your home. For many of my friends who live in the area and all living in 2 bedroom apartments with kids, these cafes are utilised frequently. Whether it be a place to take small children to on a rainy day for a babycino, a meeting spot with friend or a place for some quiet contemplation without kids. Cafes in inner city living are used, utilised and loved. Having a warm friendly face to greet you as you come in makes the experience. That cafe space for me has been on many an occasion, a life saver.
So now as we go past our old cafe I have to deal with from Monkey Boy, Mama it makes me feel so sad that Anthony is gone. I want to talk about him all the time, it makes me feel so sad…
From Little Monkey, ANThatttiii…ANThatttiii!! With small arms outstretched towards his cafe.
I know what you mean boys, I feel the same way.