I just saw this on Boston.com, regarding Someday Cafe in Davis Square:
Just days ago, residents learned that Someday’s owner, Gus Rancatore, had failed to renew his lease — he says he forgot — and that the landlord was on the verge of signing Mr. Crepe, a purveyor of thin, European-style pancakes, soups, and salads.
The article says that the owner of Someday Cafe, who also owns the local Toscanini’s chain, forgot to renew his lease, and that for some reason the landlord didn’t remind him or check in — he just signed a new tenant, Mr. Crepe. Mr. Crepe used to be up the street, but lost its lease when Dave’s Fresh Pasta decided to expand. This happened not too long after I moved into Davis Square. But Someday’s owner seems to think that the landlord wasn’t too sad when he was able to take advantage of this oversight:
But for all its personality, Someday has been looking shabby, acknowledges Rancatore, who took over the business about four to five years ago. Customers often lament that the dingy carpet is torn and that the walls need repainting.
People have complained about loud music and sketchy-looking customers, who loiter on the streets, Rancatore said Fraiman told him.
I can’t argue with that. But before I can continue, I should note that a lot of what I’m going to say in the rest of this post is entirely wrapped up with myself and my personality. I’m not trying to slam Someday Cafe — I really like their coffee. They’re simply not a place where I’m comfortable hanging out anymore (and sometimes I’m not even comfortable walking in the door). It’s thrown up a mental hurdle for me that’s not worth jumping some days, especially since I can walk a block up and be at Starbucks, where the hurdle doesn’t exist. Think of me what you will for what I’ll say, but at least I can admit it. Also, I’d like to say that the coffee at Someday is still damn good! OK, end of disclaimer.
I agree that Someday has been looking shabby, and some of the clientele are sketchy. Personally, I’m uncomfortable walking past groups of sketchy characters and smokers (I am not saying that all smokers are sketchy, or that all sketchy characters are smokers). I’ve also started to feel slightly out of place in my preppy-ish clothes in a coffee shop with couches that have passed "old but cool" and entered "wow, the cushion is now so compressed that you can see the springs."
Anyway, I get very annoyed when I have to walk through a group of smokers to enter a door, be it into a cafe, restaurant or my own apartment. And that’s what you have to do at Someday, more often than not. The group sometimes makes me nervous, especially if it’s a big group of guys who don’t bother to move out of the way of the door. I would go there more frequently (for a drink to go, at least) if I could just waltz right in.
As far as staying to enjoy a drink goes, I really don’t do that anymore. The first thing is that there are rarely seats open, which is good because it means customers . . . except a good portion of them get a coffee and then sit for hours. I got tired of walking in, getting a drink, and finding there was nowhere to sit. I started checking for open seats before getting in line, but I continually found that there weren’t any. Mostly I’d just leave without getting a coffee and go somewhere else.
I did get a seat a couple of times in the spring semester, but didn’t bother after the second time (I couldn’t get a seat the first time). I went there to do some homework (in the middle of the day on random weekdays), and there were some older gentlemen sitting around, occasionally talking and otherwise watching everyone. (These would be the people taking up the seats when I walk in and out because there’s nowhere to sit.) They creeped me out. Yes, I know, a coffee shop is a place to gather, but I felt a little uncomfortable. Especially after I overheard them referring to one of the female baristas — I can’t recall now exactly what they said, but they didn’t know her name and were referring to her by talking about the way she dressed or her chest or something like that, and the tone of voice it was said in made me uncomfortable. Especially because they were looking at everyone in the place. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were going to talk about all the women in the place as each of us left. Again, makes me uncomfortable.
From the article, it sounds like these guys were just looking for a place where someone would say hello, ask after them, and know more about them than “medium regular.” That makes me feel a little bad, but I’m not going to apologize for feeling uncomfortable. There has to be a better place for them to do this — a good argument for some sort of community center, perhaps? Anyway, I can’t imagine I’m the only woman who’s been in there and felt that way. Think what you will about me; I also don’t like it when I pass a man on the street and can tell that he’s staring at my chest as I walk by him. It’s not the looking that bothers me — it’s when it’s obvious looking. People who are discreet are welcome to look because I don’t notice, and therefore am not made uncomfortable.
Anyway, I crossed Someday Cafe off of my list of places to go and do homework or just hang out. At this point, I basically only go in to get coffee to go. But, in the last year or so, I’ve started going to the Davis Starbucks more, partially because there isn’t a goup of smokers to walk though. There frequently aren’t any seats open at Starbucks, either, but at least everyone has a drink. And if there are seats, I feel comfortably ignored by everyone in the place. Perfect.
I’ve gotten over feeling like a jerk when I walk by Someday with a drink from Starbucks. But I still feel conflicted — I’d prefer to support a locally-owned business (especially since the coffee is great), but there’s a little hurdle for me at Someday that doesn’t exist up the street at Starbucks (or, come to think of it, at Diesel Cafe, which I’ve only been to once and I should try to get in the habit of going to — I don’t go now because it involves crossing more streets around the Davis intersection).
All that being said, the baristas at Someday are all great. They all make good drinks and I can’t remember ever being put off by anyone’s attitude, though I did feel very awkward and embarrassed when one of them complimented my looks one time. Give me my coffee and be friendly, but in that way where I’m "just another customer." I freely admit that this is my own personal hangup. I’m sure loads of people wouldn’t feel so awkward and embarrassed if this happened to them.
I guess we’ll see what happens. The article says that a bunch of regulars complained to the landlord at some community task force meeting, but it also sounds as though, by the time this meeting happened, the lease was signed and the Mr. Crepe owners aren’t about to give it up.