For the past fourteen years Sal Bednarz has been living and working in Oakland’s Golden Gate neighborhood, comforted by the neighborhood feel and the unique diversity of his neighbors. He can usually be found behind the coffee bar at Actual Café, chatting up his neighbors.
Bednarz opened Actual Café in 2009 and with bike friendly extras like indoor bike parking, bicycle art shows, and hosting an annual Bike To Work Day Energizer Station, Actual Café quickly became a hot spot for local cyclists to retire their pedals for a pint. Actual Café won the Bike East Bay Bike-Friendly Business Award in 2010.
“This became a defining characteristic of Actual Café and has won us the support of cyclists and cycling organizations,” said Bednarz.
But Actual Café is more than just a hub for cyclists. Bednarz’s main focus for the café is to serve as a meeting place for neighborhood folks, a place to get comfortable, enjoy a great bite to eat and just relax.
“We are the people in your neighborhood,” boasts their Facebook page. With super friendly staff, community boards covering the walls and Laptop-free weekends and dinners, Actual Café has a true neighborhood feel. The café is always cozy and alive with community engagement, everyone talking at once, forks clanking against plates and the woosh of the espresso machine.
“The neighborhood has changed a lot since I moved here, in many positive ways, but that change has also brought tension, as change often does,” said Bednarz. “Unfortunately, many new residents don’t have a sense of connection to the neighborhood they’re moving into, and class and racial conflicts arise out of lack of understanding.”
Bednarz is on a mission to connect his neighbors, old and new to their community and to each other. He spent all day at Love Our Neighborhood Day in May doing just that. Perched on the seat of his new baby blue Japanese cruiser style bicycle, Bednarz rode up and down San Pablo shaking hands, making friends and connecting with his neighborhood.
“One of my desires [for his community] is to help introduce neighbors to each other and help to create a sense of neighborhood identity that reflects all parts of the neighborhood,” said Bednarz.
To help keep their bellies full and their spirits high Bednarz just opened up a new spot dubbed Victory Burger, serving up delicious affordable treats, at San Pablo and Alcatraz. Stop by Actual Café and Victory Burger and say hello to Sal, he is just dying to meet you.