“Hey buddy,” he says each time I walk into the cafe.
The building is situated on the southwest corner of Dwight and San Pablo with a column supporting its front corner. It’s a rather awkward architectural design, because you have to avoid the column on your way in and out. Outside, on San Pablo, there is a bus stop directly adjacent to the building, and also the aforementioned sex shop and fancy restaurant. Across the street is Cafe Gratitude, or some other such liberally named establishment. On the opposing corner diagonally across the street is a liquor store, where Teddy usually takes an old shopping cart to buy ice by the twenty pound bag.
Cafe Trieste has several tables lining the San Pablo side of the building where the usual locals (a tall older man with a cap who looks like a disheveled construction worker) smoke and drink house wine. The tables are next to several bay windows which are often open in warm weather.
The cafe itself seats thirty people at most. On days when Papa Gianni is present signing opera, there is a standing-room-only crowd which spills out onto the sidewalk. People stand inside, some with cameras, listening to Papa Gianni (who must be at least 80) belt out traditional opera and watching him down cups of espresso. Whenever he’s there, I tend to walk in and order a quick vanilla latte to go before heading back to my apartment. Papa Gianni’s appearance always deters me from studying at the cafe.
I come to the cafe late at night to read and watch people sit around and drink wine. The cafe also has a delectable assortment of pastries and cakes. My favorite is the white chocolate cheesecake. When I started to run out of money and food, Sam would give me free coffee and food whenever I showed up. I’m still amazed at his generosity.