Flea St. Cafe is a Menlo Park fixture for 36 years

by Linda Hubbard on September 4, 2016

We stopped in at Flea St. Cafe last week, just a couple days after the restaurant celebrated its 36th anniversary. That’s one long run for a restaurant that, as founder/co-owner Jesse Cool writes, took root in “an unlikely neighborhood just outside of the city of Menlo Park, in the county of San Mateo, on an unlikely street Alameda de las Pulgas aka Avenue of the Fleas…”

For those residents here long enough to be diners there since the 80s, Jesse’s description about the first decor may bring back memories and cause a chuckle:

Flea St 80s menu“Back when Flea St. opened every room was covered with flowered wallpaper that I hung myself, along with sewing the lace curtains. Nothing matched and because we had no opening budget, mirrors, antique plates and all those knickknacks (if you recall from those days) came from local antique stores and thrift shops.

“Flea St. has changed since the 80’s. She’s grown up, become more contemporary and I love it now as I did when we opened. Back then, each table had a crystal bedroom lamp, lace doily and mismatched salt and pepper shaker. In honor of this birthday, those elegant antique lamps are back on a few tables giving an old fashion loving warmth. But, fear not, the lace and mismatched everything are forever gone.”

And then there’s the handwritten 80s menu! Jesse writes: “We knew then, and still know many of the people(friends) are who grow, fish or raise our food. Back then, when the organics and sustainable movements were still in their infancy, I needed to know that there were no artificial additives, preservatives, growth hormones or antibiotics in anything we purchased.”

So, the food and decor has changed. Jesse brought in chef Carlos Canada as co-owner. There are now two Cool Cafes, with the one at the Cantor Arts Center reopening on September 7 after a remodel.

Concludes Jesse in the a blog post: “Thank you to this community, my loving family and those who have worked with me over the years. We carry on through everyone’s support of those who are deeply committed to keeping our food supply, air, soil and waters as healthy as possible.”

Photo of Jesse and Carlos by Chris Gulker (c) 2010

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