I was in Sonoma for a board meeting recently. Tired of eating the standard resort meals for breakfast; I decided to head out to to find some local fare. After a quick Google, I found a highly rated local place just a short walk from the resort called “Creekside Cafe”. Apparently this place is an institution in these parts where “everybody knows your name”.
Casey, the son of the founder greeted me. Casey and his father Mike, who opened the restaurant are locals and this year are celebrating 20 years of being in business.
While seated at the bar, I noticed that tables were filled with friends – that while there for a good meal, where also there for something even more important – a non judgemental meeting place where opinions could be expressed … even differing opinions.
I mentioned to Casey how much I enjoyed this locally owned small business environment. His reply was “yeah, there are not many of us left and eventually there won’t be any more places like ours where you can get “home cooking”. While what Casey says about the food it true (it was quite good), my comments were about the environment this provided. A sense of community.
Casey and I struck up a conversation and I mentioned that the last time I was here it was immediately after the fires that ravaged the area. This of course struck a cord with him and he started to share his experience related to the fires – how it impacted his customers; his friends.
The fires burned for 21 days and consumed 245,000 acres. Many of his customers were without power at least – and many more lost their homes.
Casey said all he wanted to do was have power at the restaurant, even enough just to give his customers – friends, coffee and provide a place for them to congregate to share their stories and pain.
When the restaurant reopened when power was restored, Casey wasn’t ready for the stories he heard. Stories about friends that would no longer be visiting this oasis and stories from the ones that could about the devastating losses they or family and friends suffered.
While Casey might not have been ready for the stories, they still took place and that small micro-community filled with people from all walks of life and socioeconomic conditions worked through things together.
This really struck me – what if we had more Creekside Cafe’s? Environments that accommodated the sharing of differing opinions without judgement or hostility – an environment that was supportive of EVERYONE in the community and was there to lend a hand or be a sounding board in times of struggle.
We need more “Creekside Cafe’s“.