A bit of Bay Area in Riverside

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By Olbunmi Laditan

By Olbunmi Laditan

If you’ve never ventured into the Riverside Marketplace during the night hours, you may have missed the little piece of downtown San Francisco’s artist district that sits on Mission Inn Avenue.

Coffee Depot was built in 1904 and is owned by Geof and Evelyn Gaines. The couple has owned the building, a Riverside historical landmark, for five years.

Ever since they first opened their door four years ago, the store has managed to be on a whole different plane than your average biscotti serving coffee shop.

As one walks into Coffee Depot, the demure lighting contributes to the mellow atmosphere. The design, a deliberate blend of eclectic and cluttered, achieves what Geof Gaines calls, “an extension of your living room.” Students and community members can be seen enjoying the atmosphere of the outside patio as well as in the main lobby.

“People can do all kinds of things here. Some are engaged in debate inside, and at the same time others will be playing chess or just talking until closing,” said Zak Hall, 21, a frequent patron.

“Sometimes you just want to chill out with a cup of coffee and be left alone. This is the place for that,” said LT Honse, 20, another regular customer.

The menu above the coffee bar details the selection of drinks which range from caramel cremosas, a refreshing blend of Italian soda and cream ($2.25), to hot chocolate ($1.75). If you’re hungry, the food options include breakfasts such as the egg and cheese bagels ($3.72) and lunch choices like grilled chicken sandwiches ($4.95).

Heading into the library/study, the tone of voices is softer and most people are either clicking away at laptops or reading paperbacks from the vast book selection displayed on tall bookshelves.

“This is one of people’s favorite rooms. It’s like a second office,” Gaines said. That is easy to believe because of the spacious layout complimented by leather chairs and overstuffed couches.

What really sets Coffee Depot apart from its coffee-serving counterparts is the entertainment that is offered three to four times a week. Thursday from 7 -11 p.m. is open mic night where musicians are invited to perform cover or debut material. There are also live musical performances, comedy/improv nights and foreign film showings scheduled in advance.

On the particular night that I was in Coffee Depot, John Andrews and Ed Saenz of The Bottom Feeders were playing songs from their new CD entitled “Up The Drain.” The band has been together for eight years and has performed at Coffee Depot several times.

“We’ve had a lot of great experiences here. (Coffee Depot) helps with the challenge of gaining a new audience and getting your songs heard,” Andrews said.

The listeners seemed to enjoy the melodic rock harmonies as Andrews and Saenz, both on vocals and acoustic guitars, previewed selections from the CD.

With the variety of services that Coffee Depot provides, it is obvious why it attracts such a diverse mix of individuals. The upbeat environment will continue to make the location a hot spot on the list of Riverside nightlife.

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