Rudy and Jackie Cordova were busy setting up paintings by local artists for a Valentine's Amor Eterno exhibit when I visited Calacas in Santa Ana early Saturday morning. The married couple behind the "culture, clothing and curios" store on Fourth and Birch Street took time from their busy work to give me a sneak peak of their expanded vision for the future: Café Calacas.
A short trip to the vacant space next door in the historic West End Theatre building revealed the coffee shop soon to be. Rudy outlined where the prospective bar would go, where patrons would sit, and spoke of his ideas for setting up a modest stage for music and other events. Everything within the space was still far away from physically taking shape, but Café Calacas, the owners hope, will be opening very soon!
Given that, I then asked Jackie a few questions about the plans.
OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): When did you originally get the idea for Café Calacas? Was it something you always had in mind, or did it come about when you moved your store to Fourth Street and there was an empty space next door?
Jackie Cordova: After moving to downtown Santa Ana two years ago, we would have events at our store, and people would ask where they could get water, coffee or a bite to eat. There's also a lot of office workers in the area, so we saw a need for lunch for them. We had first right of refusal on the space next to us, so that when it became vacant, we got first dibs on the space. Over the summer, we went to New York and got a lot of ideas from delis in terms of the whole grab-and-go.
There are a lot of coffee shops along and around the street. Is the density a concern? Or do you see it differently?
We went to downtown Long Beach about a year ago, and they have independent coffee shops on every corner--all of them packed--so the density factor is not a concern for us. Having options is always good for everyone.
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In addition to coffee, does Café Calacas plan on serving up cultura? What possibilities exist for music at the soon-to-be opened business? Are you looking to add art exhibits, open-mic poetry and other things?
The space kind of took on a life of its own and turned into something way different than we had in mind, but we definitely plan on having events--art shows, book signings, CD-release parties, etc.--and opening the space to our community. We want to have acoustic performances by local musicians and involve our local high-school students in art exhibits.
Like Antigua Coffee House in Los Angeles, are you going to make it a point to do fair-trade coffee?
We want to incorporate fair trade, local and green practices into our concept. It may be slow at first, but as we come across companies and ideas, we're going to be adding them in.
When are you looking to open up Cafe Calacas? And what can people expect from the Cafe Calacas experience? Wi-fi y pan dulce?
As with any project, it takes on a life of its own and takes way longer than anticipated, but we hope to be open within another month. We'll be serving up fresh fare--fruits, salads, soups, sandwiches, juices, coffee--and then see where it goes from there. We're asking the local business association, Downtown Inc., to add wi-fi to our side of the downtown, as they have done for the Artist Village area. We're going to be working with local bakeries for fresh bread, pastries and pan dulce.
Calacas is located at 324 W. Fourth St., Ste. B, Santa Ana, (714) 662-2002. It will host a reading of the book Down and Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis In the Twenty-First Century by author Daniel Hernandez on Thurs., Feb. 10, 7 p.m