New cafe brings coffee and more to West Oakland

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

A sandwich board outside The Corner on Robinson Street in West Oakland announced this morning that the Corner Cafe is now open for business. The plan for this cafe began with a community survey on which a place to buy coffee was at the top of most people’s wish list.
Mark Kramer, director of the Corner — a community center owned by the Friendship Community Presbyterian Church on the corner of Terrace and Robinson— said it is a pilot project that could expand, either on its own or with a complementary business.
When I visited today around lunchtime, Mark was there (center in photo), as was Robinson Street resident Lynn Portnoff (left) and Eugene Perry (right), a piano and voice teacher who gives lessons at the Corner. 
Joshmin Ray, (below), was working at one of three small tables. A resident in one of the upstairs apartments at The Corner, he has a master’s in engineering from Pitt and is looking for work. Meanwhile, he helps Mark on the building renovation and is joshminhelping the cafe build an inventory list.
The cafe, which has free wi-fi, is selling three kinds of coffee, tea, juice, hot chocolate, fresh fruit, cereal and pastry items. Also everything is $1 or $1.25. The cafe’s operation’s manager, Diane Howard Coleman, made the butter cake.
She said the cafe “came to fruition pretty quickly” because so many people in the neighborhood volunteered, finding furnishings and painting.
The cafe is open from 7.30a to 1p weekdays only “so far,” she said. “We’re doing these hours until we get feedback from the community. We’re asking them to suggest the hours. When it gets warm, we’ll move some tables outside.” 
The people who wait on you are all volunteering, she said, adding, “so far.”
The cafe is an outgrowth of start-up operations support from the McAuley Ministries.

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