End of an Era
‘Queen’ Kalisa Moore without a throne on Cannery Row following sale of La Ida Café.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Kalisa Moore, the piquant La Ida Café owner made famous by her friendship with John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, didn’t want the last chapter of her own Cannery Row story to be written like this.
But now that her building has been sold and she’s being forced out of her historic location across from the Aquarium—the same location that housed a bordello in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row where Eddie poured leftover drinks into a jug for Mack and the Flophouse Boys—she has her own idea of how it should be recorded.
“Kalisa is the last flavor of what Cannery Row was—IN between barbarian and bohemian.”
“The Queen of Cannery Row, the icon of the Monterey Peninsula,” she offers, “celebrated her birthday at her place for the last time on Wednesday night after serving the Peninsula there for 49 years.”
Moore celebrated number 81 on Jan. 31 with a festive potluck characteristically spiced with bellydancing. She will leave the historically-protected but deteriorating building at the end of February. She arrived in July of 1958.
Chris Shake, a member of the local restaurant family, purchased La Ida Café in tandem with the neighboring Wing Chong Building, which local legend says was connected to the La Ida Café by secret tunnel. Shake, who owns Old Fisherman’s Grotto, the Fish Hopper and a collection of other properties around Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row, says he’s pleased to own the property.
“It’s like a dream come true for me,” he says. “I can’t wait to be able to be the one to continue to preserve the building. Anyone would be excited to, but being born and raised in Monterey and already having ties down there makes it special.”
Shake says he plans to do something different than a restaurant.
“The exterior of the building will always be preserved,” he says. “But I have a lot of slack on the inside. I’m looking at a coffeeshop with grab and go items—a lot of things Kalisa’s is doing now. I don’t want to put a restaurant there—I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Kalisa has built up a reputation and a following and we want to take advantage of that and continue.”
Lyn, a friend and a volunteer at Kalisa’s doesn’t anticipate much continuity (and declined to share her last name).
“In my opinion Cannery Row is turning into Rodeo Drive—upscale and ‘La dee da,’” she says. “Kalisa is the last flavor of what Cannery Row was—a raunchy place, kind of in between barbarian and bohemian.”
But while Kalisa’s on Cannery Row may drawing to a close, Lyn insists Kalisa’s as a local institution isn’t.
“Kalisa is looking for another place,” Lyn says. “She has no intention of going into that good night quietly.”