While working in cafés is not a new concept, it’s not all that common to find a space specifically designed for this purpose. Café Underwood is pitched to folks who work from home, but want to collaborate with others, have a meal or drink, or just get away from piles of laundry and other chores.
When Dominick Scala, an east-coast transplant who had been bartending at Dogwood, decided to pursue the venture, he had in mind a kind of New Orleans-style writers’ grotto, an escape from the world, complete with absinthe.
As a longtime freelance writer himself, Scala had some specs for what his ideal setup would be. But as he partnered with blacksmith Mark Ruddy from San Rafael to work on the interior, the space dictated something more akin to a Brooklyn loft space. They chose benches and tables made of redwood, reinforced with industrial steel. The bar is a complementary zebrawood, and adds warmth to the high-ceilinged room.
There’s also a pretty wood deck with several tables for outside workspace.
The upstairs loft space will be open soon, with rentable chair space for individuals or for large meetings of up to 20 people.
Tables are generously spaced to allow for a modicum of privacy, should you need it, and they’re also big enough for co-working or meeting with a group.
Lots of singles also share communal tables, easily and without crowding. What’s also nice is that, on any given morning at 11am, you might find someone drinking a glass of prosecco, and another having a Highwire latte.
There is a small food menu that will gradually expand as the café settles into a rhythm. Current selections include “grits” (actually, polenta) with parmesan, two kinds of frittatas, served with baby arugula, and a ploughman’s platter in two sizes, with prosciutto, salami, and a couple of cheeses of the day, served with Acme baguette and olives.
The wine and beer list is also evolving, but there’s currently Ghost Town's Tumbleweed Rye, Lucky Devil's Aleister Abbey, and Donkey & Goat's Rousanne white wine on tap, as well as bottles of Nebbiolo, Grüner Veltliner, Pecorino, Gavi, and two bubblies, with rotating by-the-glass options.
With its friendly vibe and aesthetically pleasing ambience, Café Underwood should prove to be a welcome respite for weary telecommuters.
308 41st St. Oakland, CA 94609
Hours: 7am-10pm, Monday-Thursday; 7am-1am, Friday; 8am-1am, Saturday; 8am-5pm, Sunday
Price Range: $
Facebook: Café Underwood