When I first heard of plans to develop a cafe in the river valley, I was skeptical. A river valley excursion can leave the hustle, traffic and noise of the city behind, and turning parts of it into a commercial space could threaten the essence of what makes it so special. I must admit though, the prospect of having somewhere to stop for refreshments during a cross-town river valley jaunt is pretty appealing.
So I checked it out when it opened last month. They offer bike rentals, Segway tours (not looking forward to meeting that tour group on the trails), and gelato, with the promise of more cafe acion once they get their commercial sink installed. On such a hot day, ice cream sounded like it would hit the spot, but there was a catch.
“Do you have any non-dairy selections?” I asked the young feller behind the counter.
He was stumped, “We have some sorbets, but I don’t have the ingredient list.”
Not willing to risk a case of milk gut, I left disappointed.
A few weeks later, on a particularly warm E-ville day (which is probably not that warm compared to places many folks who read this blog are from, but I digress), I decided to try again as I was passing through the river valley.
The guy behind the counter remembered me. “I asked our supplier, and he said 3 kinds of sorbet don’t have milk in them.”
After doing a little celebratory dance, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the selection of containers of individually portioned icy treats (vegans aren’t used to having much choice when eating out). I wanted one of each, but I chose one, threw it in my pannier and rolled down to the river’s edge.
It’s so lovely to have a refresh & refuel spot on my river valley commuting route. I wonder though, where will this go? The idea is to encourage more people to use the river valley (there probably aren’t enough currently using it to support much of a business), but will they be pedestrians and cyclists? Or will this be just another destination in the city to drive to and park as close as possible? I’m afraid that for most planners and residents, getting more people into the river valley means getting their cars down there too.