It's hard to imagine Berkeley's Caffe Mediteraneum—frequented by Beat legends Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and featured in the classic '60s film The Graduate—as anything other than the local watering hole and hub of activism that it's been for the last 50 years. However, the legendary cafe just announced that it's for sale.
Caffe Med is listed as a “Legendary Cafe Location near UC Berkeley," and locals are grinding their teeth over who will scoop up the historical site. Owner Craig Becker has the final word on who buys his business, but he admitted to Berkeley Reporter that Starbucks would be wise to buy the Med, since it's an easy way for the coffee chain to get a coveted spot on a main street.
Despite local objections, Telegraph Avenue has seen tremendous change in the last decade as small businesses get pushed out in lieu of such conglomerates as American Apparel and Chipotle. Even for a cafe that has stood in the same spot since 1957—a witness to the Beat Generation, the Free Speech Movement, and the creation of People’s Park—Becker had a hard time turning a profit, and dealt with numerous attempted robberies from the people who loitered outside his cafe.
Here's hoping that the next proprietor retains some of the magic that comes from grabbing a cuppa from the spot that claims to have invented the latte. If you try to sit in the same booth as Dustin Hoffman, you'll feel the alchemy for sure, even if the view has changed a little.