Keeping Café Culture

Council majority made the right call

The Chico City Council’s decision last week to give Café Culture a new, if conditional, lease on life was a difficult one to make, but in the end the council majority—Scott Gruendl, Mary Flynn, Bob Evans and Andy Holcombe—made the right call.

As some 20 speakers told the council, Café Culture is an extraordinary and unique business. Part dance and music studio, part Indian restaurant and import store, it’s also a music venue unlike any others in Chico. It’s the one place—other than Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium—that regularly features musicians from Africa, Israel and Latin America as well as this country. This shows a commitment to diversity that is good for Chico.

The café’s owners have tried in various ways to make it economically viable, including renting out the space after hours. But that led to problems, including a shooting for which the café got blamed. So the owners decided that the best way to make it viable was to add beer and wine to the menu.

The problem is that the café—formerly Gold’s Gym—is zoned light industrial, which allows cafés but not dance clubs selling beer and wine. It will be up to city staff to design conditions that bring the café into compliance while still allowing it to sell beer and wine at events. And it will be up to the owners to work with state Alcoholic Beverage Control to obtain the appropriate beer-and-wine license.

Knowing Greg Fletcher and Praveen Ram, the married couple who own Café Culture, we’re confident they will do the right thing and run the facility in a way that respects their neighbors and any agreement they make with the city.