It looked like the people spilling out of the Actual Cafe and onto the sidewalks on 65th Street and San Pablo on Friday night weren't feel bad at all about having to squeeze past their fellow revellers to nab a bit of a free empanada with fiery chimichurri sauce, or a bit of a turkey sandwich.

The wait staff scurrying frantically to mix home-made sodas and pour lattes didn't seem stressed either, even though the cafe was filled to bursting. After all, it was the grand opening party for the cafe, which has been open for just about two weeks, and if a grand opening party isn't the right moment to fill a local small business to bursting, what is?

For days, all the local neighborhood discussion lists had been buzzing with talk about the party, and from the turn-out, it looked like just about everyone receiving the email has dropped by.  In addition to Oakland Local, videographers from Momento magazine were filming. “This is such a wonderful place,” said Laura Ingram, a neighbor activist –and member of the SPAGGIA-list, who said she lived up the street, “This has been kind of a depressed stretch, and having this cafe come in seems just wonderful.”

For Sal Bednarz, the owner, a former telecomunications engineer and jack of all trades, whose passion is to create a real place welcoming people, bicycles, and discourse (along with alot of cool home made food, fruit syrups for sodas, and mildly fermented pickled vegetables), the chaos of the party was music.  “Yeah, it's a party,” he said as he simultaneously ferried food from the kitchen to the counter and greeted people. “It's not crowded.”

On the Actual Cafe web site, in the About section, Sal says that the genesis of the Actual Cafe was the need to have a neighborhood gathering place.  If the crowd flocking to the opening party is any indication at all, Sal's new baby is off to a flying start.

The deets:

Mon-Tue: 7AM-8PM  |  Wed-Fri: 7AM-10PM

Sat: 8AM-10PM  |  Sun: 8AM-8PM

6334 San Pablo Avenue • Oakland, CA 94608
Tel: 510.653.8386
Fax: 510.595.1124

(Note: Oakland Local is a fan of this cafe, but they didn't pay us for this; this is love.)


About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local ( a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.