Café Culture closes, for good?

Praveen Ram and Greg Fletcher outside Café Culture.

Praveen Ram and Greg Fletcher outside Café Culture.

Photo By stacey kennelly

Culture crash Chico’s cultural diversity took a hit this week as the owners of Café Culture announced the closing of the eclectic venue as of Sunday, Oct. 23.

In an email addressed to “Café Culture Supporters and Tenants,” the owners said: “There are many reasons that have brought us to this personal decision, but primarily just to have more time to spend as a family. We have thoroughly considered all factors, but this is our final decision.”

The café provided Chico with arguably the widest range of artistic offerings of any venue in town, both as a performance space showcasing an impressive array of world-music styles (from West African string masters to Jamaican reggae), spoken word, and local music (including the popular Open Mikeful night), and as a home for a wide range of classes—from energy balancing to African drumming and Latin dance.

Husband-and-wife owners Greg Fletcher and Praveen Ram have been battling with the city over the course of the café’s three-year existence to get its use permit modified to allow them to sell beer and wine during events in order to remain viable. Their request was denied this past March, but after a public hearing in April the City Council voted 4-2 in favor of hearing an appeal to the zoning decision. Apparently, the owners have grown tired of waiting (they could not be reached for comment by press time).

In their email, Fletcher and Ram said they are open to selling the business (contact <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,99,104,105,99,111,99,97,102,101,99,117,108,116,117,114,101,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,34,62,99,104,105,99,111,99,97,102,101,99,117,108,116,117,114,101,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script> for info), and actually sent out another email on Tuesday (to their tenants) saying that there was “a possible buyer of the business that would like to maintain Café Culture as is as much as possible.”

No matter who the owners might end up being, they will have to get that use permit altered to make it as an arts venue. The truth is, in Chico, a for-profit business cannot survive long if it’s depending on live entertainment as its main source of revenue.

The city and the police chief’s argument against Café Culture getting a liquor license is that with all the alcohol-related problems in the neighborhood south of campus they don’t want to add another venue to the many bars and liquor stores already selling booze there. But you have to be pretty dense to not make the distinction between people drinking some wine at a poetry slam and a bunch of thugs and douchebags going blind on drink specials. Grow a pair and do the right thing, Chico. Even the City Council agreed that Café Culture improves the situation in the area and makes Chico a better place.

Do the Carlton!

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The funk of 40,000 years This Saturday, Oct. 29, at 6:30 p.m., in the City Plaza, Chico will once again join the world-wide Thrill the World dance-off in an attempt to break the world record for most people simultaneously doing the dance moves from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

It’s a fun event for all the zombies and ghouls in the community who have the soul for getting down, but if I’m being honest, I’m a little tired of the tradition. I’m all for dancing with my neighbors in the streets, but I think it’s time to switch things up and try a new funky feat. Maybe try the moves from another MJ song/video? “Bad” would be good for a big group. The most (ahem) ballsy choice would of course be the crotch-happy intro to “Black or White,” although you wouldn’t wanna leave your car parked downtown with 100 kids swinging crow bars around. “Billie Jean” is a classic, and everyone knows those moves. Remember the Pepsi commercial with the song? Those kids had it down, especially the mini-Michael in the red coat and sparkly glove … Wait a second! You know who that kid was? Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air! I think you know what dance you have to do. Someone cue up Tom Jones“It’s Not Usual.”