There’s a corner bench seat not far from my office desk from which I can see a whole new side of Seaside. And, as I look across the airy, arty space it shares with things like reclaimed redwood, cold-pressed juices and big pieces by artists like Greg Auerbach and Genia Chef, I can make out a bit of independent journalism’s future too.
The seat isn’t my new favorite because its red leather survived a collapsing Napa warehouse during the recent earthquake, though that’s a neat detail. I like it because it’s part of a padded corner at the brand-new Press Club at the Weekly, which soft-opened this week next to our headquarters across from Breakfast Club and Outdoor World in Seaside. And I like it most because the seat sits beneath a rendition of the First Amendment– reading in part that it “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press.” The seat faces a carbon steel sculpture by Diana Moore, next to a counter that looks out over Fremont Boulevard.
There are a lot of other things to draw the eye and imagination, because the juice bar is many things itself, among them a coffee lounge, art space, performance venue and private event hub. Three flatscreens spool the day’s front pages from across the world via the Washington D.C. Newseum’s feed, plus Weekly covers going back to 1988. A giant slab of redwood makes for a community table on wheels, ready to reposition for special discussions related to recent stories, acoustic performances or – oh yes – wine – and food-driven tastings and talks.
Chris Winfield of the eponymous Carmel gallery curates the art, which is remarkable, and includes black-and-silver stardust etchings by Kai and Sunny that I’m saving up for, one car wash at a time. The art gets its star turn with a Nov. 6 show, and the architecture is similarly inspiring, the work of one-time Yale architecture school dean and all-around design superstar Charles Moore, who’s an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal Lifetime Achievement Award winner along with the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller. The materials, meanwhile, straddle stylish and sustainable. Things like the Palo Colorado-rescued great table and hand-hewn white oak juice bar are reclaimed; the entire natural light-maximizing building, which includes the Weekly next door and solar panels on the roof, is LEED Platinum. But the belle of the ball for now isMonica Berriz of Perfectly Pressed (998-8770), the former marketing pro who has turned a passion for healthy juice and an easy-to-miss strip mall spot in Salinas into a booming business.
The last two days I’ve deepened my affinity for her popular Mint Kick withapple, collard greens and mint; the earthy EnergEE with beet, jicama, wheatgrass, spinach, kale, orange, apple and ginger; and a new Sweet Choke with artichoke, pear, collard greens, parsley and cranberry ($5/16 ounces, $20/half gallon, not including bottle deposit).
Nutrition nerd Berriz designs them with specific health purposes like immunity and weight loss and wakes around 2am to press them herself with the massive super-juicer in her popular West Alisal Street location. She even gave me a small paper swatch to check my pH level, and peddles alkalized water to help me get above 7.0, where disease and illness have a rough go of it. All of the juices are alkaline; ask for your own two-second saliva test on any visit.
Other items are offered, like the growing selection of salads, including one or two organic options. I like the life-affirming but basic Thai-style cabbage salad ($3.75); Weekly founder Bradley Zeve says he’s over the moon for the spinach-cranberry-goat cheese-pecan ($3.75). The scones ($2) are incredible, thanks to a super-soft texture and understated sweetness. Mini panini like the basil-mozzarella and turkey-spinach-pesto provide a toothier fare for cheap ($2). Beer and wine permits are in process for evening hours.
The espressos, cappuccinos, café oles and lattes ($2-$4) are made with a coffee geek’s caffeine dream, a 1963 pre-infusing, three-group Faema E61 espresso machine, with Peruvian co-op beans roasted by ACME. Slow-drip cold-brew coffee ($5/16 ounce) spirals through countertop beakers, too.
Back in my red seat, I can see how Weekly founder and café mastermind Zeve wanted more for a space that had traditionally hosted ghetto-fab businesses like an iPhone repair shop and drug testing center. I can see it coming together to provide a city with things it hasn’t had since long-gone Alternative Cafe – edgier art, a youthful WiFi-equipped study space, a versatile performance venue, a place to exchange ideas. As Zeve says, “not another place to hear the Money Band.”
Zeve also emphasizes the fact that it’s a big fat experiment – saying “it could be totally different than what I envision in a year” – and leaving programming down the priority list as the cafe resolves kinks and art show rhythm syncs.
For years, people have struggled to find the Weekly, since it sits on Williams tucked behind the high-ceiling juice shop. Now it has a new front door, and new avenues to understand truly local and independent media, with this Seaside resident stoked to have a front-row seat.
• Ray Segovia of Segovia’s Cocktails fame has passed away. The funeral is 1pm Friday, Oct. 10, at Mission Mortuary by Lake El Estero, with a gathering at the tavern to follow.
• Henry's Famous BBQ in P.G. is now closed so the family can move north and concentrate on Henry's health.
• Co-exec chefs Briana Sammut and Guillaume D’Angio of Beach House at Lovers Point just got married.
• Cibo Ristorante (649-8151) is primed for a major makeover. More on the blog.
• The area’s most ambitious spirits event returns with Monterey Bay Tequila gala 5pm Oct. 11 at the Monterey Hyatt ($65, montereytequila.com). More on p. 30 and on the blog from Eric Lundgard.
• Alvarado Street Brewing (655-2337)does $4 house brews 3-6pm weekdays, 3pm-close Monday and all day Sunday.
• Ag Against Hunger has a new executive director in Lynn Figone, former chief of Marin Agricultural Land Trust.
• The Everything Italian weekend celebration of Columbus at the Fisherman’s Wharf brings little tastes of Italy ($3-5) like bruschetta, calamari, torrone and grilled sardines 11am-5pm Oct. 11-12.
• Spooky flavor from De Tierra Vineyards (622-9704) Oct. 16 with a Haunted Harvest Dinner: costume contest, unreleased wines, seasonal dinner by Brad Briske of La Balena ($65-$75).
• Bernardus Winery’s (658-3400) Grape Crush and Oyster Shuck event happens 1-3pm Oct. 25, with lunch and a bloody marys too.
• Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (624-5311) thanks generous blood donors with a carrot cake reception 4-7pm Oct. 14. Nice job all.
• Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) is accepting applications for its bilingual and college-accredited Farmer Education Program; more at www.albafarmers.org or 758-1469.
• Chili benefit with big heart and some fun chefs cometh – more on p. 30.
• Cachagua General Store (659-1857) was just named one of best remote taste destinations by Yahoo Travel.
• Robert Duvall: “I love the smell of juice boxes in the morning.”