Jeff Smith 11:59 p.m., Feb. 8
Louise says Dee’s is the bee’s knees.
Louise is sitting under a square black umbrella outside.
"Go in, but you'd better be quick. They're closing soon."
We’re at the corner of First and G, not far from the back of Horton Plaza mall, and across First Avenue from Ralph’s. This black umbrella’d, kinda cool corner place has a great location, mainly because the sidewalk stretches out good and wide, so there's plenty of space for tables and umbrellas.
It’s called, whu? Dee’s Newbreak Coffee & Café (690 First Avenue, downtown, 619-269-0580).
I head inside, looking for a cawfee, basically. It’s mostly decorated in black, with changes like a red wall with a modern art splash painting, and a stone tile wall with George Harrison, I swear...
...looking like he’s picking up a surfboard for the first time in his life. They even have a wall of corrugated iron.
I mean, this late in the afternoon, everyone’s supposed to be drooping, ready to get off shift. But Nathalia and Danielle, the baristas, are as eager as if it was the crack o’dawn.
And even though the kitchen’s officially jes’ closing, Danielle softens her heart and lets a poor wanderer still choose something to eat.
“The most delicious?” says Nathalia, when I ask her what sticks out among the raft of sandwiches. She picks out ones like “Under the Tuscan Sun (diced chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss cheese and a “zesty sauce,” $7.49), or “New-B-Ken-OB (turkey, bacon, avo, Swiss, mayo, lettuce, tomato, $7.49).
"Actually, I was thinking breakfast," I say.
She doesn't skip a beat.
"Oh. Well I like the Greek Sunrise,” she says, “because it’s got that Greek taste, spinach, feta…”
“Done,” I say. Don’t want to miss the cook.
The menu says "Two eggs, scrambled, with feta cheese, spinach, and oregano, in pita bread, $4.75."
What comes out is a thick pita tortilla wrapped around all that good stuff, cut in half...
...and wafting out that Greek Mediterranean smell of goat cheese, pita bread. You think of that classic movie “Zorba the Greek.” “Dance, you said DANCE?” What a movie. That bouzouki plucking away. Mamma mia! (Uh okay, that’s Italian).
Whatever, this little pita sandwich is kinda juicy, specially when you swill it down with the huge paper cup of coffee they give you for $1.75.
“So what’s with this name, ‘Newbreak?’” I ask Nathalia. “Greeks breaking plates at weddings?”
“No no,” she says. “It’s about the owner. Dee Harris. She’s young, in her twenties. Into surfing. She took this location over from 'It's a Grind' coffee place.”
Seems Dee and her mom started the first Newbreak coffee place in OB. Have two up there now. Named them after a ‘secret spot’ with a right-breaking wave, great to surf when there’s a north or northwest swell.
Ah. So now all the food item names make sense. “Blacks Beach,” (two eggs any style), “Down By the Sea,” (albacore tuna wrap).
I don’t hang around too long. These guys are closing. Tomorrow, crack of dawn, they’ll have to be up, back, and at 'em.
Unless there’s a swell from the northwest up at Newbreak itself, of course.