As the phrase goes, “there is no there there.”
And as every Oaklander knows, Gertrude Stein’s famous reference to the loss of her childhood home and the discovery that the city of Oakland had changed dramatically during the years she lived abroad (and more about that here in an excellent piece by Matt Werner), is continuously taken out of context and used to dis my city, which misses the point completely.
My most recent “there” is the late, lamented Full House Cafe, located for 18 years on MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland’s Laurel District. The place closed and the building was sold before I’d heard the bad news and so missed out on the chance to have one more biscuit, one more order of hash, and one more side of grits. Over the years, the Full House was a favorite meeting spot for breakfast with my friend Bill. Back in the days when I worked on nearby Lincoln Avenue, I would have lunch with a co-worker there on occasion.
The best part of the Full House, if you don’t count the prominent posters of poker-playing dogs and the crisp, just-right bacon, was the diversity of the folks who came in for breakfast or lunch on any given day: a cross-section of Oakland, seated at the Formica tables or crammed into the booths along the wall; the regulars, the families, the old timers and the newbies–we all looked forward to digging into those plates full of just plain good food.
In his farewell note, Fred (the owner), says his fond goodbyes to the Laurel and to the loyal fans of the Full House.
The place will soon reopen as another breakfast and lunch spot, and, as Fred suggests, I’ll give ’em a try.
On that long block of MacArthur, there is one less “there” there. We’ll see about the new place.
And for everyone who knows what it’s like to experience this sort of loss of place, a song by Wesley Stace.
For some stunning photos of the Full House and an interview with the former lead cook, see the profile of Kirk Roberts by Rhea on her We Are Oakland blog.