For anyone like myself who is old enough to remember what a coffee shop used to be, take heart; there are a few still left in California. Visalia Coffee Company is, IMHO, one of the best examples of that great tradition of coffee shops.
It boasts (and rightly so) some of the best coffee one can enjoy here in the Central Valley, with an equally impressive selection of Italian sodas, and pastries that actually ARE freshly made, unlike what one is accustomed to receiving at chain shops. The interior too is a delightful throwback to the past:colorful murals greet the eye going all the way back to the bathrooms that one must travel down the LONG, winding hallway to reach, unlocking with a key extending from the biggest cooking spoon I have seen since I sat in my grandma’s kitchen ages ago,lol.
The staff are polite and efficient, attending to customers’ needs without being obtrusive and annoying. They excel at the small but significant things that really matter when you are being served (is the food served at correct temperature per dish, is there sufficient napkins without having to ask for more, etc.). Furthermore, if you spill your drink no worries: the staff will be there right away to wipe up the mess…and you won’t have to wait around for a replacement drink either. Yes, I have eaten at plenty of other establishments that made me have to endure shoddy service, and I bet you have too.
But perhaps the best reason to dine there isn’t the food, it’s the MUSIC. Every Saturday, from 9:30 am to 11:30 am, your ears are in for a real treat, courtesy of the band “Zzah!”. Formerly the backing band for Dick Dale (the “King of the Surf guitar”) they play Jazz, Blues and Bossa Nova standards, combined with original compositions from their charismatic mastro on the keyboards:Dr. Richard. The Good Doctor is GOOD indeed:one of the best keboard players I have yet heard who hails from the Central Valley (he is a native of Hanford). Between songs, he regales the audience with personal stories of the artists whose music they perform, and, unlike too many performers I have heard who do this, he is actually funny and engaging;a good storyteller.
Another delightful aspect of the music is that the lineup of musicians is almost never exactly the same every week, save for Dr. Richard. This is because the band practices an “open mic” policy, wherein they connect with other local musicians and singers, allowing them the opportunity to perform with the band. Before images of bad karaoke run through your mind relax; the band enjoy a solid reputation for separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. You WON’T be hearing American Idol wannabes, nor will you have to endure dreadful “garage band” sounds that should have remained in the garage. What you WILL hear is an exciting band of seasoned veterans whose sound each week will be unique: never the same exact lineup nor the same old, tired repertoire. This is one “houseband” that isn’t going to have to worry about their sound going stale, not with the Good Doctor at the helm.
Visalia Coffee Company is located at 129 East Main Street, Visalia, CA (cross streets:between CA-63/S Court St. and N Church St./S Church St.)
For more information on Zzah! check out their website:http://www.zzah.org