A fixture in the heart of the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood, Cafe California (538 Church Street) has been serving the community with a variety of Mediterranean-inspired dishes for over 20 years. Only an exceptional and special kind of place could last this long in an industry that seems to constantly crave the next new thing. Is it the food? The martini bar? The friendly staff? Maybe it’s the eclectic Mediterranean decor, or the sunny solarium that keeps people coming back for more. It’s hard to tell, but the restaurant is doing something right.
We spoke with General Manager, Bob Parsons, to see if he could put his finger on what sets Cafe California apart. We asked him about the vibe of the place.
It really depends on which seating we’re doing. We welcome all walks of life, it’s warm and inviting, kind of like a Cheers. We attract everyone from young people to seniors at different times of day.
The vibe fluctuates depending on the time of day and is influenced by the presence of the patrons. It’s truly a place for everyone because the customers create the atmosphere. The restaurant manages to stay ahead of new trends while remaining true to its Mediterranean roots. As Bob tells us:
Our food is definitely what brings people back year after year. Our menu has a very wide range and our customer service is excellent.
So, it is the food! Could it be that simple? Maybe. We asked Bob if there was a certain dish that a first time guest should try. Something that defines what Cafe California is.
It really depends on your food preferences, we have something for everyone though. Like for example, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll love our salads. Our menu changes a lot and there’s really nothing on our menu that I could remove. People love the quality and the quantity of our menu items. People come for our salads in the summer season — the Capri is my favourite. Our California salad is massive — most people share the small size — and it’s a great salad to try because it’s got a bit of everything. Every seating draws a different crowd to the restaurant. We really serve the entire neighbourhood — they love the food and the service they get here.
It seems that the secret to Cafe California’s success is both simple and indefinable. The accessibility of the food seems to have a lot to do with it, as does the inviting atmosphere and the vibe of the place. We think it might be the restaurant’s authenticity that brings people back year after year. The feeling of people dedicated to doing what they do best, with as much enthusiasm as possible. Day in, day out. That authenticity has made Cafe California a neighbourhood gem, and a fixture of the Church and Wellesley community for over twenty years. If you haven’t had the pleasure, come in to see and taste it for yourself.
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