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“This is San Diego’s first veteran women-owned and operated café,” says Kathy.

We’re in the back patio, looking at a picture of her ship, an LSD (“Landing Ship Docking”) named USS Pearl Harbor.

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“I was a Command Master Chief aboard her,” she says. She means top enlisted sailor on the whole danged ship. “Then I became Command Master Chief aboard the Ronald Reagan.”

Wow. We’re talking aircraft carrier, 5,000 crew strong.

Now she runs Industrial Grind Coffee (3922-1/2 Park Boulevard, 619-321-8307) with a crew of two.

“And the problem is you don’t have the uniform. You can’t say ‘Do me twenty press-ups!’ if they don’t get something right.”

She’s joking of course. And her crew don’t look too oppressed.

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Kathy

link textIan Pike was here about 14 months ago, looking at the ins and outs of espresso coffee. That must have been just when Kathy and partner Barbara, also a veteran, were starting up.

I had to stop in this afternoon. Every time you go past it looks like a seductive little place for interesting people. They always seem to be having great conversations, leaning against the white wrought-iron fence, sitting at the patio table right next to Anh’s Alterations, the business that shares the fifties house on Park Boulevard.

It turns out Kathy and Barbara have started roasting their own “Industrial” coffee now. I have the Colombian (delish at $1.75), and get a toasted cheese bagel to keep me going through the afternoon hours. (It costs $2.25, plus 35 cents for cream cheese.)

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Half-eaten: the bagel and cawfee at the garden counter

You can’t help getting into conversation in the garden. Maria’s here from Rome. “This coffee is good. But you pay three times as much for coffee here as in Roma.”

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Maria

Have to say, that’s totally surprising. You always hear how expensive Europe is.

She’s talking with her friend Risa. Turns out Risa’s a pianist. Played at the Westgate for years. “I’ve played for Itzhak Perlman, Paloma Picasso, Steve Martin, the duke and duchess of Kent, General Schwarzkopf…”

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Risa

She shows me the sheet music Stormin’ Norman signed for her.

So you see where this is going. There could be a whole afternoon swallowed up before I have time to remember where da heck I should be at right now.

That’s what this tiny café does to you.

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