Entries tagged with “Station House Café”.


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The  previously announced closing of the Station House Café this coming Monday has been postponed until after July 4, owner Sheryl Cahill said this week. It could stay open through September if revenue is  keeping up with costs. Cahill dismayed West Marin three weeks ago when she said she would close at the end of May because new landlords planned to raise her $100,000 per year rent to $252,000, which she couldn’t afford.

For the next three months, however, her rent is frozen. Once she does close, Cahill hopes to find a new site, and landlord John Hural hopes to find a new restaurateur to rent his building.

This New York Times headline from 10 years ago still amuses me, for it implied that the Palestinian Authority considers indoor plumbing unacceptable in a Muslim country. As it turned out, Hamas was actually upset with women smoking hookahs.

A mother raccoon, who shows up outside our kitchen door every evening begging for kibble, brought four new kits with her the past two nights. They’re very cute and often climb the lattice to the railing but then have trouble climbing back down. They do it headfirst, so it’s a challenge.

Even more of a surprise was this blacktail doe who showed up on our lower deck two mornings ago and then went down some stairs to a still-lower level to inspect our hot tub. My wife Lynn already suspected that a deer had been venturing onto the lower deck at night because some buds in a flowerpot there were getting eaten. I was skeptical, but I guess she’s right.

A male red-winged blackbird repeatedly buzzes a raven drinking from our birdbath and eventually drives him away. Since ravens sometimes eat baby birds, the blackbirds don’t like ’em.

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

The closure of the Station House Café scheduled for the end of this month will be the closing of not only a restaurant but also of the meeting ground for many West Marin residents. Last week, I republished Jack Mason’s column set in 1966 when he owned the restaurant while also contributing to The Baywood Press, as The Point Reyes Light was then called.

Pat Healy once told me that before she added the “Station House Café, Wine-Bar” sign, the only identification on the building was the word “HAMBURGER.”

Mason eventually sold the restaurant to Claudia Woodward, who in 1974 sold it to Pat Healy, a former nightclub singer who had moved to Point Reyes Station in 1972. The café quickly became popular, and in 1980, California Living (a magazine that came with the Sunday San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle) noted the Station House is “the heart of the West Marin community, and an institution known as Table 6 is the heart of the Station House.” I remember that table well.

The piece written by George Nevin added that Table 6 “is actually two burlap-and-acrylic tables pushed together between the piano and the reach-in refrigerator. Here of a morning can be found the damndest bunch of regulars to be seen anywhere.

Table 6 with Nevin’s article lacquered onto it moved, along with the rest of the restaurant, from the building where Osteria Stellina is today to its present location in 1988-89.

“It’s the same crew, day after day, fog or shine, six days a week,” wrote Nevin. “It would be seven days, but the Station House is closed Tuesdays. Regulars include the following: Dave Mitchell, who copped both a Pulitzer Prize and Publisher of the Year award last year for his Synanon coverage; Art Disterheft, West Marin’s beloved sheriff’s lieutenant, who is a prizewinning cook, holds a law degree, and is building his own house out of salvaged lumber; Allan Ruder, the town pharmacist who peddles T-shirts that say, ‘I Get My Drugs at West Marin Pharmacy’; Art Rogers, the town’s photographer laureate, who somehow has become an artistic success that reaches far beyond this cow town; Elizabeth Whitney, who once challenged publisher Mitchell with a rival weekly, The Tomales Bay Times, and who is likely to fly off to the ends of the earth in search of a good solar eclipse (she just got back from an eclipse trip to Kenya).

“That’s not all Table 6 has to offer. There are many others of perhaps less renown but no less important to the town: the hippie mechanic who has visions of opening a Mercedes dealership in Point Reyes and easing into semi-retirement; the man with a PhD in psychology who now pounds nails for a living; a fellow who drives possibly the most beat-up Volkswagen in West Marin, who lives in what appears to be genteel poverty but who, they say, has storage bins of exotica like antiques and espresso machines throughout the Bay Area; the skilled workers in stained glass, cabinetry, and windows.

Table 6 regulars, café staff, and friends on a Monday morning in April 1980. The Point Reyes Light last week published this Art Rogers photo in announcing the upcoming closure. Pat Healy is third from the left. This is the same photo that California Living had published with Nevin’s article 40 years earlier.

“The conversation of a morning covers an astounding range, from financial matters to science, politics, religion, computers, military matters, education and law. There’s nothing they won’t touch, nothing sacred, hardly anything so esoteric that someone doesn’t have some intimate knowledge of it. And when breakfast is over, they scatter to their jobs making useful things, creating, contributing to what photographer Rogers calls the Point Reyes Nation.”

In 2005, Healy sold the restaurant to its manager, Sheryl Cahill, but retained ownership of the building. Healy died on  Dec 8 at the age of 92 and left the building to her stepsister, Melinda Benedict, and two stepchildren, Kirsten and John Hural. The new owners now want to raise the rent from $100,000 per year to $252,000 per year. Cahill says that’s more than the restaurant can afford, which is why it will close. However, she hopes to reopen somewhere in the area. Anyone who knows a suitable building ought to contact her. The Station House has long had good food and drinks, as well as having good music in the bar on Sunday evenings, but its role as a community meeting place is just as important.

 

News that the Station House Café in Point Reyes Station will close at the end of this month has shocked many of us in West Marin and has generated newspaper and TV attention throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Owner Sheryl Cahill says the new owner of the restaurant building wants to up the rent to approximately $700 per day, which she can’t afford. She hopes she can eventually reopen somewhere else.

For years while I edited and published The Point Reyes Light, I ate breakfast there almost daily and often used my mealtime to also pick up news tips, so I’m particularly chagrined by the upcoming closure. In fact, the newspaper and the restaurant have been associated in various ways for more than 50 years, beginning when the paper was published by Don DeWolfe and called The Baywood Press. Back then, the restaurant, which was located where Osteria Stellina is today, was operated by historian Jack Mason of Inverness, a retired Oakland Tribune editor.

Mason, who bought the restaurant in 1966, also wrote Funny Old World for DeWolfe’s paper, and years later in the same column, he described what the restaurant and DeWolfe were like back then. The column was reprinted in our 2013 book, The Light on the Coast. In case you missed it, here it is again:

By Jack Mason

“I’ve got an idea,” Don DeWolfe said.

I laid his medium-rare hamburger on the counter in front of him. “If so, it’s the first time,” I said, in the kidding tone one uses with an old friend, even if he is the local editor.

He didn’t bother to parry the thrust, but handed me a mustard container he had been fiddling with. “This one’s empty,” he said.

I gave him another from under the counter.

“What’s your idea?” I said. My interest was only lukewarm. Certainly I was not flattered that he would ask me for my opinion. Editors do that — ask everybody in the place what they think, then do their own thing regardless. It’s the way Great Battles have been fought and lost since the dawn of time.

He squeezed some of the brown stuff onto his hamburger patty, then pressed down hard on the bun as if afraid the meat might get away. Those were quarter-pound hamburgers I served at the Station House in 1966 — and the buns all had sesame seeds on top.

Jack Mason as owner of the Station House Café in 1967.

“The coffee will be ready in a minute,” I said. “We had a couple of customers in here awhile back, and they drank it like it was going out of style.”

“You mean you have other customers?” Don exclaimed. He dug into his burger, reaching for a napkin. “This napkin holder is empty,” he said.

I pushed one towards him from further down the counter, just as the phone rang. “Probably Willi Reinhardt,” I said. “The toilets are plugged up. That ought to take care of your crack about other customers!”

But it was Bob Vilas at the bank. “Jack,” he said, “these checks you wrote Farmer Brothers and Schwartz’ Meat Company last week. What do you expect me to do with them?”

In red-faced confusion, I told Bob it was good of him to call, and said I would be right over to take care of it, as soon as I got rid of my customer.

“You have a customer?”

“Yeah, Don DeWolfe.”

Standing beside his printing press, DeWolfe in 1967 looks over his recently renamed newspaper. Back then the newspaper was produced in the building where Rob Janes Tax Service, Coastal Marin Real Estate, and Epicenter clothing boutique are today.

“Well, tell Don for me, will you, that I think his new idea is great!”

I was really taken aback. “You mean he’s tried the idea out on you? What is it?”

“You don’t know?” Bob cried. “I thought everybody on the street was in on it.”

I hung up, stung, and stood there for a moment letting my anger cool. Here I’d been writing a column for DeWolfe — free. Writing editorials in my spare time, absolutely free of charge! And I’m the last one on the street to know about this great, world-shaking idea of his!

“What is it — I mean, your idea?” I demanded.

He was wiping his hands on four paper napkins at once. Finally he rolled them up into one big ball and dropped them in the green hamburger basket.

“Oh,” he said. “The idea.”

“Yeah, you’ve told everybody else. How about telling old Jack?”

He worked his way off the stool, and pulled some small change out of his pocket — and I mean small. “How much is a hamburger?”

“Did you have cheese on it?”

“No, I can’t eat cheese.”

“Fifty cents. And don’t bother to leave a tip.” I dropped his five dimes and three pennies in the cash drawer. The spring was broken, so we always left the drawer open.

“My idea,” he said, “is to change the name of the paper.”

I felt let down. “What’s wrong with The Baywood Press. It’s been called that for 16 years. It has tradition behind it. People are used to it. Why change it?”

“I thought Point Reyes Light would tie in better with the area,” he said. He inspected me momentarily for my reaction. “I’ll think it over,” I said.

He had to bring all his weight to bear against the door before he could let himself out — the pneumatic catch was stuck. Then he stood there a moment screwing his mouth into an odd shape.

“This is the only hamburger joint I was ever in,” he said, “that didn’t have toothpicks by the cash register.”

The name Baywood Press was changed to Point Reyes Light with the issue of September 8, 1966.

— March 2, 1978

The next posting on SparselySageAndTimely.com will reminisce about the restaurant in more recent times.