Girl Meets Cafe. Boy Meets Girl.
November 19, 2008
If I were in pursuit of a cafe that resonates with me on many levels, it might go like this.
SWF, 33, seeks cafe that works hard by day and dresses up well at night. Friends consider me a discriminating cafe-goer, so I hope you are an open-minded, comfortable place to spend hours on end, have free Wi-Fi and ample electrical outlets, and don’t look at me funny when I come to the counter three times in one afternoon.
I get along best with cafes that have a reverence for dark coffee, substantial deserts, and vegetarian-friendly meals for those cases in which I overcaffeinate myself and need to eat something before I pass out. I consider myself aesthetically driven, so please offer a civilized respite from my busy day. Major bonus points if you have an appreciation for wine and art.
If Gigi’s Cafe in south Minneapolis were to reply to my ad, I would fall in love with it on almost all accounts. Except for one. Gigi’s does not have free Wi-Fi. It’s such a bummer, I know, but as we single gals know, you can’t hold out for absolutely everything in your soulmate. Major two-way compatibility is key, and beyond that you need to look into your heart and accept the other for who they are. In this case, Gigi’s is a wonderful cafe that’s versatile enough to sling your morning coffee, support your mid-day freelance work, or offer a flirtatious backdrop for a romantic date. And there ain’t a thing wrong with that.
I showed up at Gigi’s at 7:30 earlier this week to meet RP, a fellow with whom I was having a first date. I got there a minute early and placed my cold-weather accoutrements on a chair to get organized. When I looked up, he was coming in the front door. We recognized each other and shared one of those implicit flashes of relief that quietly says you are interested in this person you just discovered before you.
He got a chickpea spinach salad and a chocolate brownie, I got a peach three-berry cobbler, and we both ordered a glass of Malbec from the satisfying wine list. I chatted up the girl behind the counter who let me know that Gigi’s is the name of the owner’s grandmother. The owner also runs her own coffee distribution company that keeps a number of local businesses well caffeinated. RP then joined in and said he knows the woman who manages the kitchen. I was intrigued. He paid for our food and drink, which we lined up on our arms like good servers and went to find a seat.
It turns out that RP used to work as a bartender and server, so he had plenty to say about food and local restaurants. He is also studying to be an urban planner, so we spoke at length about the Twin Cities, the built environment, and things like the flâneur (“a gentleman stroller of city streets”) and psychogeography. This common ground offered many twists and turns in a long conversation full of digressions and regressions, like a long walk through the winding back streets of St. Paul and up the hill again.
Before we knew it, the house lights came on, the chairs were turned onto the tabletops, and we had to gather our things. I said that it didn’t feel like a Tuesday night. He said, “No, it feels like a Saturday.” What a surprise to find a cafe and conversation good enough to make even a humble weeknight feel like weekend. On the street outside the cafe, I shook his hand by holding it in both of my hands like I was lightly patting a snowball.