There’s always that one place where people go to connect with others, be productive, have fun or simply, just to be. For residents and visitors of Noe Valley, that “third place” is Bernie’s. The small coffee shop with no more than seven tables is tucked into the first floor of a beautiful three-story Victorian. It takes the “warm and homey” feel to a literal level.
The walls are tastefully decorated with black and white photos, but the wall of comical children’s drawings add the perfect touch. The coffee menu has all of the basics with a few seasonal items and just enough food options to crave an unexpected appetite. Free Wi-Fi is provided for all customers, which is as good as gold.
Bernie’s is heaven for the cafe campers of Noe Valley.
Bernadette Melvin, or Bernie for short, is the woman who provides for the neighborhood’s families, passers-by and coffee fiends. It seems that none would disagree with the fact that Bernie is a friend that you can depend on. Granted that she’s not running between her Noe Valley location that opened in 2007 and her newest downtown location that just opened its doors this past February, she will happily stop to chat. Dedan Hyatt, who just started working at Bernie’s last week said, “She’s definitely the anchor of the place.”
Isabel Pedraja has been a frequent Noe Valley visitor since 2004. During the last three years she has spent working on the block, she has stopped in for a coffee or a chat almost daily. Pedraja pointed out that Bernie’s “sure has a lot of competition,” with Philz Coffee, Starbucks and Martha & Bros. Coffee Co. residing on the same street, “but Bernie has a great way of making you feel special, and she does a good job of instilling that skill in her staff.”
Hyatt said that people probably keep coming back because it’s “a comfortable place to be.”
Bernie’s coffee shop has come to represent more than just good, local coffee, but has grown to be a Noe Valley staple. The neighborhood just wouldn’t be the same without it. Though it is essentially a business, the coffee shop can be seen as one unofficial community center. Its visitors gather here for meetings, to catch up with friends or just to relax.
Besides providing local coffee and food that won’t break the bank, Bernie’s provides its customers with real human interactions that isn’t easily found in the busy lives of the average San Franciscan.
“[Bernie’s] makes me feel warm inside. It’s kind of cheesy but true,” said Pedraja.