418 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Caffe Pergolesi is a coffee house in Santa Cruz, California - More literally than most. Previously a dentist's office (One Dr. Miller), this victorian dwelling-cum-coffeehouse is the best coffee house scene in Santa Cruz in my opinion, and it has won awards to that effect - Metro Santa Cruz gave them the Gold for the same in 2000. It is home to a number of distinct social scenes, including the Santa Cruz Vampires Motorcycle and Scooter club, a number of high school students from Santa Cruz High, and several made up of UC Santa Cruz students.
Pergolesi has a relaxed atmosphere and several separate spaces. The front room (which contains the counter) and the two rooms to the left are open to one another, but there are a couple of quieter rooms off towards the right; Through them one can reach the small back patio. The front and left side of the establishment are surrounded by a large patio. The wooden section of the patio to the right is a non-smoking area, and toward the left, the larger stone patio allows cigarette smoking.
The Cafe sells local brands whenever possible, from the coffee (From the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company) to the pies and cakes, and even the chai. They also sell a handful of beers (Including Sierra Nevada IPA, Red Hook, and Guinness) and a hard apple cider. They also have a small selection of vegan cookies and foods, as Santa Cruz is a city of much Political Correctness.
On warm summer nights, it is not unusual to be able to catch a small band playing, or a DJ spinning in a front room. The Vampires' annual Santa Cruz (Motorcycle) Rally starts here, usually accompanied by great clouds of smoke from excessive but traditional burn-outs.
But let's face it, if you want coffee, you have a lot of places to go, and most of them are less expensive than spending an evening at Caffe Pergolesi - "the Perg" to its regulars. So why it such an alluring place? First of all, it's mellow. It's the kind of place you can go while intoxicated, or tired, or in pain, and reasonably expect to not be made to feel any worse. You can smoke there, which is a source of irritation to some (who are welcome to use the non-smoking patio, and of course there is no smoking allowed indoors) and pleasure to others. Next, the coffee is decent, and so is the service - So long as you're not making trouble, in which case they will afford you very little tolerance. Thus, the extremely annoying are generally evicted without unnecessary delay.
Of course, that doesn't extend to the people they are on a first-name basis with. If you're a regular, you can generally shout and cuss and make a nuisance of yourself, as long as you're not being inappropriate. So like so many other social scenes, once you've put in your time you can be a little obnoxious on occasion. This is just one of the many reasons why the Perg can be an addiction. Of course, there's also the alcohol I've mentioned. Pergolesi is only one block off of Pacific Ave., the main drag in downtown Santa Cruz. It's a block away from a Streetlight Records (and across the street, the metro bus station (which contains a rather good pizzeria called Storti's)and the Greyhound bus station, a block away from a large parking lot in which parking costs one dollar per day, and The Bagelry, one of Santa Cruz's most beloved eating establishments. Directly across the street from Perg in two differerent directions you can even enter two different hot tub and massage businesses.
All of this ensures steady foot traffic, and of course, being a popular cafe, it draws a certain number of people itself. While there are other coffeeshops in town, and even other coffeeshop scenes, if coffee is a life style for you, and not just a hobby, then the Perg is the place to see and be seen, or just grab a cup of coffee and a bagel. Don't like coffee? Have tea, or a beer, or a Nevada City Iced Cappucino. Don't even feel like having a beverage? As long as you're not taking up undue space or being a nuisance, you're unlikely to be kicked out even if you're not buying anything, though your mileage may vary. But unless you're a complete pauper you'll surely run into something there you want. Which might be a beverage, or perhaps the clientele.
It's also worth noting that rooms above the cafe are rented out to young college hipsters from time to time. I've never known anyone who lived up there, so I can't really tell you much about that. However, if you have to ask what it takes to get one of those rooms, you can safely assume that you are not going to make it onto the waiting list.
There are, of course, a few things you should know before you go to this cafe and attempt to blend in. First of all, people will be smoking in the doorway. It's just a fact of life, one you will have to accept for what it is - The status quo. Complaining about smoking anywhere it is not explicitly prohibited, in fact, will probably get you into conversations you would have been just as happy skipping. Do not say anything bad about Budweiser in the presence of the staff - And they have a tendency to blend in with the populace, so watch out. And finally, never assume anyone wants to talk to you. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, if you don't try to talk to people you will not succeed. If you attempt to communicate with someone and are rebuffed, don't go away mad - just go away. People tend to more or less ignore people they haven't seen around before.
Finally, if you find yourself at Caffe Pergolesi and at a loss for what to do nearby; Proceeding Northwards (go down the front steps and turn right) you'll come upon the back entrance of Logos bookstore, the town's best place to buy used books, and not a bad place to buy new ones. Of course, there's the aforementioned record store, pizza place, and massage parlors - Not the naughty kind, I should point out. Many times I've gone down to Logos with a couple of dollars, come back with some science-fiction gem, and spent a few hours reading. Generally speaking, though, I'm eventually interrupted by a friend - And that's what keeps me going back.