Berkeley commuters will have a new place to grab breakfast on the go as Café Fanny opens a café and retail store on University Avenue in the space previously occupied by Flour & Co. The local organic granola company will sell granola bowls, drip coffee and sweets from CC Made, a confectionary company owned and managed by Café Fanny producer Cassandra Chen.
Chen started CC Made at the end of 2011 in a small communal kitchen in Richmond, then relocated to 1619 Fifth St. in Berkeley. Chen acquired the rights to Café Fanny granola from Alice Waters in mid-2012. (Waters also co-owned the actual café with the same name on San Pablo Avenue, which launched the granola product. The café was closed in March 2012. The two cafés are not affiliated). “We’ve been steadily growing out the line since,” said Chen.
The opportunity to open at the corner of University and Acton comes just in time for owner Chen. “We got really lucky,” said Chen. Though luck in this story comes double-edged with irony.
In August, Café Fanny’s Fifth Street granola manufactory suffered a severe fire that rendered the building completely unusable. Chen heard through the grapevine that the Flour & Co. space, which was vacated in July 2016, was still available, and on Sept. 1, hopped on the lease.
Chen hopes to offer both a café and a retail space, with the emphasis shifting throughout the day from morning time granola bowls and coffee from Café Fanny to afternoon caramels and other sweets from CC Made.
Once open, the space will have some of the features of a standard café, such as coffee and wifi, but Chen intends to start small, with granola and drip coffee, and then scale up. Which means no espresso and no pastries — yet — but other exciting choices may be in the works.
“Since I’m not opening a bakery or pizzeria I can work the concept up to what I want it to be,” said Chen. She is deliberately vague on any new menu offerings but hopes to use the space to test market flavors and specialty items, such as house-made marshmallows and butternut squash bourbon jam.
Among other developments, Chen has been in talks with San Francisco’s Sightglass Coffee (“I just really love their coffee”) and Straus Creamery in Marin County (“I can’t really see us using anyone else”) for coffee and dairy supplies, and once open, will tweet daily menus via Twitter.
Much further down the line, Chen wants to create a mobile customer app with her husband Manuel Guzman, a software developer for Selerum. Chen hopes to provide an easy way for customers to order via a mobile device, and also to be able to reach them directly when either Café Fanny or CC Made has a new flavor to test, a specialty item for sale, or a bargain of the day.
Chen is busy reworking the kitchen and customer space but hopes to open by the beginning of November, around the same time as the grand opening of the University Avenue Target, which occupies the lot directly across Acton from the café.
“I think it should be really good,” said Chen, regarding the retail giant. “I think it should be really great for us for bringing foot traffic down.”
Cafe Fanny will be at 1398 University Ave. (at Acton) in Berkeley.
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