Seven Sisters Construction, a feminist collective, would help us with carpentry projects -- sometimes in exchange for breakfast.
A Woman’s Place Bookstore and the Women's Press Collective were sources for books, publishing, and networking with artists and writers like Judy Grahn, Wendy Cadden, Willyce Kim, and Pat Parker to name only a few of our customers and allies.
There were the bars: Ollie's Bar, the Bacchanal, and the Jubilee and across the street from Mama Bear's Bookstore, Thursday nights at the White Horse.
There was a brief appearance of the Night Hut, with Chef Amy Shaw making her culinary debut cooking and serving dinner.
Between 1976 and 1983, Brick Hut collective members Karen, Helen, Randi, Cheryl, Teresa, and Wendy left to pursue other careers and interests as cultural activists, healers, and educators. Marie Della Camera joined the collective around 1983.
View Brick Hut Cafe Photos!
BRICK HUT 2
In 1983, with the financial help of the Cheese Board Collective, and the efforts of customers and friends, the Brick Hut moved to a new location at 3222 Adeline Street. Seven Sisters Construction, a feminist collective helped remodel the new space. The Brick Hut became a community gathering spot for local merchants, Berkeley City Council members, writers, musicians, and artists. We also continued to support feminist and queer causes and activities like the Lyon-Martin Clinic, Queer Nation, and East Bay Act Up. KPFA Radio broadcasted their International Women’s Day program directly from the Brick Hut. With our larger wall space, we featured community artists' work. Amana Johnson, Grace Harwood, Barbara Sandidge, Kyos Featherdancing, Cathy Cade, and Wendy Cadden were some of the artists who filled our walls. Once a year, we featured the work of the children of Berkwood-Hedge School to benefit their program.
In subsequent years, Cynthia, Claudia, and Marie left the collective to pursue other careers. At the second location, the Brick Hut was robbed and vandalized over 17 times in eleven years. With the ownership of the Hut left to Joan and Sharon and the neighborhood falling to the ravages of crack, we initiated plans to move the Hut to a safer location.
BRICK HUT 3
In 1995, the Brick Hut moved to a new, expanded location at 2512 San Pablo Avenue. The new space was constructed primarily by O’Malley and Latimer Construction (formerly members of Seven Sisters) and included a performance, meeting, and gallery space. We also opened for dinner. Our first salon featured writer Dorothy Allison and singer/songwriter Alix Dobkin hosted a regular open mike night. Women artists once again filled our walls: Franna Lusson, Mariella de la Paz, and Grace Harwood to name a few. We wanted the new, larger Brick Hut to be an attractive and active space for our community. Other women-owned businesses opened on the same block: Good Vibrations, West Berkeley Women's Books, and It's Her Business. Collectively we were known as Girl Town.
In 1996, the Brick Hut fell into serious financial difficulties; we filed for Chapter 11 status. In 1997, we filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed our doors for the last time at 2pm on March 24, 1997. We had a big, crowded, raucous party.
At the Brick Hut, I believe we celebrated difference. We were visibly different, we forefronted difference, we encouraged difference, we hosted difference. We did not try to assimilate, disappear into conformity, or become mainstream. We did not build The Brick Hut Cafe so we could have jobs, although that was good. We did not build it to have careers, or support career-moves, although that was a possibility. We did not build it only to make money for ourselves, although we wanted to maintain a viable business that supported our friends, our fellow workers, our causes, and ourselves. We built it to create the possibility of a workplace and a community where no one's politics or cultural affiliations were left at the front door. We built the Hut to celebrate difference, to celebrate YOU. It was a home for a while and we still mourn its passing. Thanks to everyone who contributed to and supported the Brick Hut (1975-1997).
Join the Remembering The Brick Hut Cafe group on Facebook. Share your memories, thoughts and photos.