I recently had the chance to be introduced to the owner of the soon-to-open cafe. His name is Arturo Galeano, father of Frank, the real estate broker on Union. Arturo came to the US in 1957 from Calabria, the tip of the Italian boot. He landed in Columbia street and has never left. He is truly one of our old school residents.
A long time ago he had a trattoria where Teeda, the Thai restaurant is now, and has longed to open a new eatery for quite some time. The Piccolo Cafe will be a breakfast and lunch joint with traditional Italian pastries and American hamburgers.
As we were talking about the neighborhood as it used to be and what it has become, I asked him about his favorite hangout. He admitted to being quite the gambler as a young man, and revealed that there was an illegal poker game in every basement on Columbia street. He also spent many hours in his social club, which was where his son's real estate office is now. He described how the men would cook together, play cards and talk about the old country. Listening to him, almost cinematic images reeled through my mind, and once again I dreamed of time travel.
Today the door has been painted by the famous Jay Crider. It announces its opening for January 2nd 2009. So let us show up in numbers to enjoy a restorative breakfast and erase the excesses of the New Year celebrations.
UPDATE (01/05/09): NOW OPEN!