Getting down with Midtown

Chico has a new café in the neighborhood east of downtown

After the revitalization of the block where Nantucket Home and Tin Roof Bakery sit, I heard a few people start referring to that general area as SoPO, as in south of the post office. For me, it never really stuck. It’s cute, but I just can’t commit it to my vocabulary for some reason or another.

Yet, there’s a new landmark designation being coined in Chico, and it’s one that I’m certain will creep its way into my conversations more frequently. Carolyn and Brian Kanabrocki recently opened a new restaurant and coffee shop called Midtown Local in the old Café Flo space on East Sixth Street. The business name is more than a moniker—it’s actually a great description of the neighborhood they moved into, which is why the Kanabrockis chose it.

Brian noted that the eatery isn’t quite downtown and rests in an eclectic neighborhood that he describes as a “melting pot.” There is a tech business across the street, homes next door on one side, The Pageant art-house movie theater on the other, and a general mix of students, renters, homeowners, young professionals and businesses within a stone’s throw of the restaurant. It really is a unique pocket of Chico, and one that deserves a distinctive descriptor. I’m surprised no one has thought of it before (if they have, I’d never heard it used).

The success of the restaurant certainly will help bring popularity to the term, and I think the Kanabrockis have what it takes to get people talking about both Midtown and Midtown Local. The couple run The Handle Bar and are leveraging the success of the east Chico craft brew hotspot for their new venture.

Midtown Local has a broader menu, serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, in addition to a full offering of coffee and espresso drinks. Pizzas named after prominent Chico places are one of the menu’s highlights, and you can enjoy any entree with beer or wine. The menu includes a vegan pizza, with plans to offer a gluten-free pie in the future. The coffee is roasted in California, by a small San Rafael company called Equator. The space is clean and bright and pictures of Chico landmarks line the walls, a nod to Carolyn’s deep Chico roots, which go back generations.

After chatting with the couple, I ordered a Midtown Specialty, a Chai-like drink that’s made with espresso. It was a tasty mid-morning pick-me-up, both functional and flavorful, and will bring me back to try to the rest of the menu.

The couple are “quietly opening,” as Brian described it, and are now open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to a flexible 7 p.m. close and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. A great perk for customers is the free on-street parking. And you can sit at the front of the restaurant and take in the neighborhood—one that has a character worthy of its new description.