Owners Jennifer Vogel and Cindy Wickham work every morning to open the eyes of their neighbors with a cup of coffee that can be hot or cold, sweet or bitter, but always delicious.
The Eye Opener Cafe occupies an old house next to the post office in Oakland and was opened by Vogel and Wickham last October. Jennifer Vogel wasn’t available but her husband, Will Vogel, told the story of the cafe.
“The house is 118 years old and it still has that kind of feel to it,” Will Vogel said.
The ladies welcome customers to sit in the small dining area in front of the cafe while they serve the coffee, sandwiches, soup and handmade pastries.
“They do the whole shebang,” Vogel said. “I can’t get her to do it at home, but she sure does it for the rest of the world.”
As the only coffee shop in a town of fewer than 1,000 people, Vogel said it becomes a gathering space where people “come in there to see a smiling face they know.”
“The coffee shop is really a hometown bakery coffee shop,” Vogel said. “From my perspective, in a little town, people are coming into this coffee shop and spill their guts like they’re talking to the hairdresser. People do come in and talk about small-town politics and what’s going on in town and things they care about.”
Vogel joked that his wife opened the business to get retribution for his winery that he bought nine years ago. However, the Vogel businesses both work under the same roof. The winery is doing business as Fifty Shades of Grape, which Vogel said he named for “kind of a sense of humor.”
“It made sense to use the same facility, the same hours, the same personnel, the same everything, and have another outlet for the wine,” Vogel said. “It works out good for everybody.”
The coffee shop is open weekdays for breakfast and lunch.
“People get nutty if they don’t get their morning coffee and this is the only place in Oakland to get coffee,” Vogel said. “It becomes a ritual, a routine.”