From New Babbage Department of Records and Archives
The CocoaJava Cafe is a steampunked espresso cafe with a sweet shoppe around the corner. Tis a safe haven for urchins, weary travelers, street entertainers, and all sociable folk. The Cafe is also where the Ceejaytopians gather.
The current CocoaJava Cafe has been in operation a relatively short time - but the building it resides in has a long and colorful history.
The CocoaJava Cafe was originally built for Loner Lane by DreddPirateBob Streeter. It had no back wall, had a drive-through window in the fireplace room (why, no one knows) and sales counters on the patio area. There were no windows or upper patio on the second level. Bob gifted the building to Ceejay when she bought her very first piece of property in Babbage, and then was heavily renovated. But that would explain the continual rat problem.
Those are the facts of the situation, but what follows is the story you will remember. After all, the Truth and Popular Opinion rarely agree.
The first known tenant was a Mister Eleazer Slocombe who used it as stables, which sheltered the strong workhorses that drew the carts that carried the supplies to help build up the city. Eventually, the building found itself surrounded by homes and shops. Polite society decreed that the horses be moved further downwind. Mister Slocombe decided to seek his fortune and sold the building to fund his purchase of an airship. Sadly, he crashed into the Vernian, only moments into his adventure. The next owner, Miss Prudence Mulligan, scrubbed it clean and opened an apothecary, which she ran successfully until her death by accidental overdose of sweet woodruff. Jakob Rasmussen snapped the property up for half its worth, and within the week, was killed by a rockslide as the streetside wall gave way. The rocks were hauled off to build terraces for local shrubberies (which failed to flourish under the grey New Babbage skies) and the locals finally started to see a pattern. With no one brave enough to step forward and purchase it, the building fell into decades of neglect and disuse.
When Miss Ceejay Writer arrived in New Babbage, she dreamed of opening a coffee house but did not think she could afford it on a writer's wages. To her surprise, she learned that the stone building could be had for the price of a good pair of boots. Since she already had a good pair of boots, she purchased the building. Well-meaning neighbors tried to warn her off, but the town motto, "What could possibly go wrong?" had already been taken to heart by the young idealist.
Her love for chocolate and coffee prompted the name CocoaJava Cafe. Ceejay's bohemian lifestyle influenced the decor. Thus far, nothing bad has happened to her... well, besides the occasional trolleys derailing into the patio, the zombies that ate all her chocolate cakes, oh, and that accidental fire that set the place ablaze when Grendel Footman was in pursuit of 'the Scribbler'... well, mostly, things have not gone too wrong. Today, the newly remodeled cafe (renovations necessitated by what has become known as the Grendel Incident) awaits visitors from near and far - offering comforts and vices, conversation and laughter, or simply a place to rest one's weary feet or unpack a box.
A TOUR OF THE PROPERTY
If you think that the open air patio with it's plush pillows, comfy couches, and various drinks is all the cafe offers, you simply have not gone exploring! You will be surprised, nay, astonished, by all there is to see and do in this perfectly safe old building.
TRUFFLES AND TRIBULATIONS is the small sweet shoppe with an entrance on the side of the building. Fortunately, a large wall collapsed during the Grendel Incident, revealing the shoppe and allowing easy access from the front patio. There is a small hallway in the rear of the shoppe leading to an alleyway exit, should a rapid egress due to social circumstances become necessary. This is provided for your safety and avoidance of scandal.
THE HEARTH ROOM is perpetually warmed by a cheery fireplace and occasionally houses a small sleeping Clockwinder. An old fashioned moonshine still appeared in here one day, but Ceejay can think of absolutely no reason to remove it. The newly carved wooden mantelpiece may attract rakes and rogues who cannot resist sitting upon such things. Ceejay swears she did not install this to lure them in.
THE STORAGE ROOM is on the second floor, and can be reached by using the Dubious Stairs. The stairs are perfectly safe, please do not be concerned, even though they are Ceejay's very first attempt ever to build a staircase. The Skull of Rumors on the first step provides hours of hilarity and fodder for the local tabloids. Tap his head and join the fun! Once in the storage room, you will notice various vendors and kiosks selling quality wares of all sorts. You will also notice a ladder. You will be tempted to climb it. Give in.
THE VERANDA is a second floor patio, reachable by the ladder in the Storage Room. It provides a breathtaking view of the Academy, Brunel Hall, and beyond! Relax at the table in comfy chairs and watch the sun set, airships pass, distant laboratory explosions and urchins scrambling over the rooftops.
THE WIDOWS WALK is the uppermost level of the Cafe. It is not safe! Do not attempt to clamber up here! Please heed the warning sign placed next to a convenient ladder in the alleyway behind the building! The roof is not a trysting place, in spite of danceballs and perhaps a kissing pose that we are of course completely unaware of. The ladders are tricksie and you are apt to plummet to the ground. Only the most determined and intrepid of clamberers are able to conquer them. Not that we condone trying, of course!
- Work Parties
- New Babbagers tend to be busy, productive folk, and 'Work Parties' are common at the cafe. Anyone can host one by listing a Work Party event in the New Babbage Ning, and/or announcing it in the Steampunks channel in-world. The premise is to bring your project to the cafe and work quietly, but in good company. The property allows guests to set out items. Prims are left free for small builds or unpacking. Past Work Parties have produced contest builds, original artwork, and stories written by Babbagers.
- Street Musicians
- Those who make a meager wage playing music on the Babbage streets are welcome to pause at the cafe to entertain patrons. The management does expect these musicians to be polite, charming and non-intrusive to conversations in progress.
This movement came to light during the takeover of New Babbage by Doctor Obolensky in his attempt to turn Babbage into Obolenskidonia. Ceejaytopians, also known as Decadent PreBohemians, tend to be a blend of Cafe Society and Bohemianism. They are fairly smart and somewhat lazy. An in-world group exists for Ceejaytopia, and it can be found in Search.
- The Cafe Moves to Academy of Industry
It was a day like any other day. I'd just finished sweeping the floor of the CocoaJava Cafe, when I began to experience that strange sensation of someone looking at me. I turned around... no one. The feeling continued... I looked downward. From somewhere in the vicinity of my kneecap, Clockwinder Tenk was smiling up at me. In a charming way. This could only mean one thing and that one thing was not flirtation. He wanted something of me. "Okay, Cheshire smiling wee one. What do you wish of me?" I inquired. "Oh, um" he helpfully said, while tapping his toes and circling his finger on his coffee cup. "What do you think of the university district?" he inquired. "All those students. All that studying. All those late nights." As he rambled on, I began to understand. He knew I'd never part with my cafe. He wasn't asking me to move and leave it behind. He was asking the absurd and impossible, and damn me, I was actually considering it.
He pressed on, intent on making his point. "They are going to need coffee. Lots and lots of coffee." I was now very clear on what Tenk wished me to do. But still I hesitated. And then came the clincher. "You get to be the boho across the street corrupting the students with romantic notions and distracting them from their studies."
There was a long pause. I stared down at him. He smiled sweetly up at me. I sighed. "Right, sir. Let's go look at the land." To my amazement, I was able to purchase a parcel very close to the university grounds. All those students... lots and lots of coffee.
The next morning I began recruiting strong, burly workers. This was going to be a monumental move, and like pulling a sore tooth, it would be best to simply get it done rather than prolong the agony. A plan was formed. It was a good solid plan, as solid as the stone building that would, after hundreds of years in one spot, be rumbling eastward to its new location.
It took a dozen of the afore-mentioned burly men under the supervision of the burliest of them all, Sven Myklebust to raise the cafe onto a latticework of thick wood beams. A few stones fell loose during the process, but those could be easily fitted back once the move was over. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw how much care the workers were taking with my precious building. The worst was over; it had been set free from the earth. What could possibly go wrong from here?
Huge wood and iron wheels were then fastened to the wood frame, and miles of strong rope were used to lash the frame together tightly - while at the same time slipping the bottom level of the framework out, in order to let the wheels have enough clearance to roll freely. Horses were brought in to provide, well, horsepower. I held my breath as the team was nudged into action and began to pull their burden, straining to get those giant wheels rolling, then moving more confidently once momentum kicked in.
Crossing the railroad tracks sent a few dozen more stones flying - I quickly called out to a small group of gawking urchins to gather them up. "Find a cart and bring them along! I'll pay you each a shiny Tenker at the destination!" The promise of coin was effective, and my workforce grew.
My cafe lurched and rumbled its way up the road, heading for Academy Downs, wobbling slightly but being as brave as a mobile stone building could be.
It was just as we passed Maison Horta that the stained glass awning came off. It simply slid loose, the intricate patterns of glass and lead capturing the sunlight as it plummeted to the street, sounding a crescendo of tinkling notes out across the Palisade. The Cafe was saying 'farewell' to its old home in grand form.
I would tell of the havoc wreaked as the old girl worked through the Simulator Crossing, but my nerves have not completely recovered from that spectacle. Suffice it to say that the bottle of absinthe that flew loose from the strapped down furnishings was caught and consumed before you could say “Bob’s yer Urchin”.
I would love to be able to report that the cafe was gently lowered onto its new plot of soil. I really would love to be able to, but momma taught me not to lie. As the workers positioned her over the new location, the wood beams supporting her decided it was time to take up an exciting new career as kindling. When the dust cleared, the building looked for all the world like a large stone bird perched drunkenly in a nest of twigs.
But, she was, for the most part still intact. And I saw something else as that dust cleared. Standing on the sidewalk was Miss Kaylee Frye, happily soaking up the free entertainment. And holding a trowel.
I looked at Kaylee with pleading eyes. She smiled and exploded, as she is wont to do. Within moments of her recovery though, we'd come to an agreement. It was such a relief to watch her repair the café. She straightened the walls and replaced the loose stones, cementing them back into place even better than they'd started out! Mister Galactic Baroque came by and helped with some steps. He also teamed up with Kaylee to build a low wall around the patio. I was reminded of a barn-raising, where everyone would work on a building together. I truly love New Babbage and its citizens, always eager for a chance to build and socialize.
And so, by day's end, the CocoaJava Cafe was happily settled into its new location. I've been busily unpacking the furnishings and also the candies for Truffles and Tribulations, the sweet shoppe on the side of the cafe, and it all feels like home again.
Please do come by and relax a bit, while enjoying Radio Riel's Steampunk music stream. You'll find a free Tenk-O-Lantern on the wall by the sidewalk to take back to your home for Halloween decorating. Newcomers and those without homes will discover they can unpack boxes in the cafe, or go up the ladder into the storage room for a bit of privacy to dress. Rebellious sorts may choose to ignore the warning on the backside of the cafe and ... clamber.
And those tired university students will be given coffee, and rest, and subtle talk of rebellion against the status-quo. Long live pre-Bohemian café society. If you have room for another group, please search the SL Groups for Ceejaytopia and join the lazy, caffeinated rebellion.