Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Zephyr (#5 in a Quest)

I tried again.

The Zephyr Coffee House and Art Gallery on east Colorado Blvd. is a popular spot in an old Craftsman house, with an atmosphere like no other place I know in town. You can sit on the serene, outdoor patio or the closed-in front porch, or in one of the comfortably-decorated, well-lit rooms.

I know there's going to be music playing wherever I go, so I've got to get past this music thing or else stay home. But at the Zephyr the other day it was a little ridiculous. There was different music playing inside than outside and something else playing in the kitchen and all of it was loud, so if you sat near the doorway from one section to another you'd be listening to two different kinds of music. Near the patio door, which is by the kitchen, you could hear all three.

ARGH. (Is that how you spell "I can't stand it"?)

At the Zephyr they accept cash only. That's unusual, and something folks need to know before they go planning a lunch on the Visa or debit card. But I made a point to go when I wasn't hungry. I've had one greasy omelet there and one crepe that was maybe enough for a snack. I don't think of the Zeph as a lunch spot, but I'm in the minority. It's always busy there at lunch time.

I got an iced coffee (no complaints, no raves) and sat outside near the speakers so as not to mix it up with the music from inside. It made me mad that I had to choose my seating that way. I had a negative attitude and was off to a bad start. But I was determined to sit there and write. And lo and behold...eventually I did. The bubbling fountain and the pretty patio finally got me into a groove.

A variety of international music played outdoors. Good stuff. A woman near me worked at her laptop wearing earplugs. A clue for me for next time.

Mind over music! Late in the afternoon I moved inside when the air grew chilly. I ordered tea (they serve Tazo teabags) and sat in the porch area. That room seems quieter than the others. The music changed to the kind of stuff you hear in a yoga class - background. As the sun went down, they forgot to change the CD and there was no music at all.

Bliss.

27 comments:

USelaine said...

Aaaauuuummmmmmmmmmm.......

Abraham Lincoln said...

Since I stopped smoking on Sunday night on March 10, 1996, I don't enjoy just sitting out and drinking a cup of anything anymore. I don't miss smoking but it offered something I don't get out of sucking my thumb. I envy people who can park somewhere and get a spiritual lift out of it.

I think this is my first trip to your blog. I am in Brookville, Ohio and it is cold this morning – 13 degree Fahrenheit = -10.5555556 degree Celsius.

If I were just walking past you on the street I would probably smile and nod my head. I hope you would too. LOL

altadenahiker said...

I like Abe. Zephyr looks nice -- never been.

Sharon said...

I love these stories of finding the perfect coffee house. I am not a coffee drinker but, I do love to go to these places for an iced tea and sit out doors and watch people or traffic. It really is hard to find places that don't drown out conversation with loud music. I can't imagine multiple music themes going on.

Jilly said...

The spelling is Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh....

Katie said...

I feel like I should blast music from three different sources to get the full effect. That's the only thing that would ruin looking at this charming setting! I love a nice outdoor patio; I live in an apartment with no yard. I still haven't found a cozy coffee shop in my area. Keep up the hunt; maybe the perfect spot does exist!

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

Tell them to turn the music down. They'll do it.

Cafe Observer said...

I think I've seen Abe Lincoln snooping around this blog before, honest.

The Zeph is a good one. House coffee is good...XXcept for!
WiFi, last I ck'd doesn't work with the new Vista oper system.
Menu is limited.
It's on the lower eastside of Pasadena & I'd rather stay in my mid-town Playhouse district.

The music can get loud. I was gonna say, P, trying cotton or earplugs could be a nice compromise.

Keith said...

I hope if anyone out there is considering opening a coffee shop, they pay close attention to this quest.

HearkenCreative said...

Petrea, I have had to change my order a couple of times at Zephyr after realizing I don't have enough cash and they don't accept credit cards. Bummer. The patio is beautiful. Outdoors in SoCal rocks. Zen/bliss is fleeting -- something that only shows its face once in a blue moon. If it's not the music, it's the construction on South Lake Avenue or the incessant callers who can't understand that I don't need my house painted or refinanced. So, I'm glad that you were able to find a moment of peace, and got some writing done.

One thing I find frustrating about Zephyr is that, since it is an old house, if two or three people are having a conversation in one of the "rooms" of the house, it makes the rest of the seating in that room completely unusable. So when I go, I always make it out to the patio.

Petrea said...

I always thought it was spelled "ohm." But I think that's some kind of measurement.

Abraham, welcome. I think you've dropped by before.

Abe is famous throughout the City Daily Photo blogosphere. He has a great blog, with astounding bird photography among other things. Plus, he's actually related to the president he's named for.

AH, you have good taste. Maybe you and I should go to Zephyr and you can set me straight. It's comfy. If I take Pasadena Adjacent's advice (duh! why didn't I think of that?) I might fall in love with it.

Sharon, I'm glad you like these. I wondered if they were of interest to non-Pasadenish.

Thank you, Jilly. That's twelve r's.

Katie! I picture Berkeley as ALL coffee shops and comfy spots where you can sit with a book. I guess it depends on what part of town you call your own.

PA, see above. I'll give it a try. Who needs a little assertiveness training?

C.O., I've heard so many bad things about Vista I've never used it. It worked fine with XP. Though Pasadena has a variety of neighborhoods I haven't found any that make me truly uncomfortable in daylight, certainly not this one. There are antique shops nearby, plus my gym (Gold's). But there's not a lot of charm around there architecture-wise.

Keith, I wonder. I keep thinking I'm not the demographic they're shooting for. Even if everyone who reads my blog agrees, we're still a small segment of the market, and people who visit here tend to be like-minded. (Although I do have dis-agree-ers, all of whom I welcome. They keep it spicy.)

Petrea said...

Hearken, Loren! Just missed you. Yeah, bliss is fleeting. If I'm having so much trouble getting my work done at home, maybe THAT's my problem, and not the perfect coffee shop or the volume of the music. Still, if I go out I get to blog about it. :)

As for those callers: go to donotcall.gov and put your phone number on their list. (Even cell phones.) Then, next time you get an unwanted call, say, "Please remove me from your calling list." Legally they have to do so. If they call again, go back to donotcall.gov and register a complaint. You probably won't hear from them again after that.

We don't get sales calls at our house very often.

Pascal Jim said...

Strange, no place to sit and just sit, without some kind of dollar transaction.
Some years ago, benches lined both sides of Holly Street from City Hall to Marengo. Under the shade trees, beautiful, now the trees are coming down. Alas.....

A. Lincoln: I'd nod and smile as you walk past, ....a winner....

Petrea said...

The benches are still there, Pascal Jim. I hadn't heard the trees were coming down. Why? That's awful. Can anything be done to stop that?

The benches are usually filled with homeless people now, and since I've encountered a teensy bit of hostility from them I don't go there to sit. But there are one can sit without buying.

altadenahiker said...

Great places to sit without buying: Farnsworth Park, Cherry Canyon, That street, west, above the Rose Bowl w/benches, Hahamonga Park. But it's hard to get any work done there -- the view is too distracting. I would say libraries are the best -- they have that atmosphere of work-to-be-done-now and play later.

Susan C said...

I like the perspective in this photo.

I was hoping to catch a sneak peak at what you're writing, but I guess I'll have to wait for the novel to be published.

lynn said...

That looks a great place. I'm with you on the music. I actually prefer silence whilst working, or occasionally my own choice but only one or two songs. Silence is golden.

Margaret said...

I love this place. They have a great caprese panini.

Petrea said...

Pascal Jim, I've got something for you tomorrow.

AH, library's good. I might go back to the central library. That's a nice cafe and you're right by book central.

Well, shoot, Susan. I thought I'd made it big enough for you to read the first paragraph. The rest I blurred because it gives away too much. It's all in outline form anyway, not yet pithy prose.

Lynn, do you write your articles at home or elsewhere?

Margaret, I trust you. I'll try the panini next time.

babooshka said...

Like Abe I used to smoke which went hand in glove with a good book and a stong black coffee. Now it's just the coffee and the book, the service, has slackened and the music is more intrusive. The perfect ones I have always found in France, but then I find most perfect things there. Really enjoyed the narrative, this is a subject close to my heart.

Bernie K. said...

Whoops—sorry. Is this not the regional manager's meeting? Managers for Rocky Socky's Chop House franchises …?
No. Sorry. I'm sorry—
Wrong room.

Chuck Pefley said...

I'm with you every step of the way! Years ago when I used to do art shows inside large shopping malls I was faced with the annoyance of competing music for five 12 hour days in a row. Different music coming from open front stores on each side of the mall aisle plus the shopping mall's overhead speakers adding to the toxic mix. Oh so glad I quit doing shows!!!

maria said...

i love that you can see the red tile through the glass table - very cool. this is my first visit to your blog. i linked to you from the other "PDP" i just got home from working an event in pasadena - its such a great little city.

Petrea said...

Babooshka, I like your idea. I'll take my laptop to France. Surely I can get some writing done there. If I could, I would take a sabbatical and head out. Do people sit in cafes and pound away on their laptops in Paris, I wonder?

Down the hall, Bernie.

Chuck, poor you! I try not to even shop in a mall if I can avoid it. I can't imagine having to work in one.

Hi Maria, thanks for stopping in. I think of this as PDP junior. Eric's PDP inspired me to begin. Yes, Pasadena's a "great little city," as you say. I love my town!

But I wouldn't mind taking that sabbatical in Paris...

Kelly said...

I am really enjoying having coffee with you like this! I went to the new tea shop in town recently, and it was LOVELY. The first day I went, probably because I had read your prior post about music, I found it to be too loud. The next visit was much, much better! I think today's bench in the woods, with a little coffee from home may be the ticket.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Kelly. We have a new tea shop in town, which I put on my list. It doesn't look like there's much in the way of seating, but I'll check it out anyway. Pasadena has a few tea houses, where they have a more formal tea and laptops are discouraged.

tr3nta said...

looks like the perfect place to have a coffee...