Ian Port’s lame piece misses a point worth making: Coffeehouses are a breath of life to moribund neighborhoods. Long before Starbucks and sushi joints, there was Claire de Lune’s in North Park which led the way in the revival of North Park since it opened some 10 years ago.
Like the dearly missed Quel Fromage Coffeehouse in Hillcrest long ago, independent coffeehouses walk point for urban revitalization by becoming the first safe, egalitarian and welcoming locales in an otherwise rundown place; their clientele invigorates local business with a sharp cash infusion and makes their neighborhoods attractive to other business which evolve rundown areas out of economic doldrums, making them more appealing to developers. Hillcrest, Downtown, North Park, Golden Hill and other inner city neighborhoods share the same experience which has been ongoing since the early nineties, when local indie coffeehouses began their renaissance.
I don’t know if Port has his nose out of joint because he doesn’t like yuppies or cafe society types who buy the condos the developers build or if he’d rather live in a ‘hood where he could get shot at on a nightly basis; if he yearns for good, cheap food in North Park, I’d recommend Super Cocina on 36th which is far finer than any of the ptomaine palaces of his fond memory and should he care to have a shot or two taken at him, I suggest he try the border where the Minute Men will happily use him for target practice. He need not go far for a fond walk down memory lane, twisted though it may be.
San Diego has one element that it can be quite proud of where redevelopment is concerned; that is by the human scale, welcoming and cozy element created by the 360-plus independent coffeehouses in the county; they hardly deserve the imbecile backlash of Ian Port.