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East Bay Dispatch: Oakland Blocks Caffe Trieste, Cites Cabaret Ordinance

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The wall at the original Caffe Trieste. [Photo: Flickr/jahner]

The West Coast's first espresso joint and famed Beat gathering place, Caffe Trieste, is currently mired in a good deal of red tape as it seeks to open its first Oakland outpost on the 4000 block of Piedmont Avenue. The problem? A city ordinance going back to the 1940s that prohibits the placement of "cabarets" within 300 feet of schools, libraries or churches. Under the dated provision, a cabaret is defined as any business that serves food or drink along with live entertainment or dancing, and as anyone who's been to any of the Caffe Trieste locations can attest, music is a key aspect of the Trieste experience:

Without live entertainment — opera singing, traditional Italian music, jazz, folk and more — the cafe wouldn't be what it is, said Caffe Trieste attorney Rena Rickles.

"What makes it special is the entertainment," she said. "Without this change in the ordinance, what makes Caffe Trieste Caffe Trieste would be impossible. You'd essentially have an Italian version of Peet's."

In this particular scenario, a library lies within a football field (300 feet) of the proposed cafe space, and if you ask us, it would appear that Trieste's proposal to change the law has a good chance of being approved. The proposal has already cleared the City Council's public-safety committee by a unanimous vote; next up: a full council hearing in December. Get your beatnik berets ready, Oakland.
· Caffe Trieste faces resistance in Oakland [Inside Bay Area]

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