Romeo’s Coffee on Telegraph Avenue opens to crowds

Gino Micheletti, dressed in a red shirt. welcomes customers to his newly opened Romeo’s Coffee on Telegraph and Dwight. Photo: Ted Friedman

Dino Micheletti expected the Sunday soft opening of Romeo’s Coffee at 2499 Telegraph Ave. to be a quiet day. He hadn’t widely advertised that the restaurant, in a newly remodeled modern building, would finally be open for patrons. He planned to advertise that the café was open for business when he held a grand opening celebration at the end of April.

Apparently, Cal students didn’t get the word. From the time the café opened on Sunday until it shut it was full of people trying its “romance-themed” coffees, named “Straight to Heaven,” “Love Potion Number 9,” “Cupid’s Arrow” and the like.

“It was overwhelming how many people showed up,” said Micheletti. “It was brisk all day.”

Micheletti knew then he didn’t have time to slowly retool his operations. So on Monday, he closed the café, which is located in the space that once housed the Shakespeare & Company bookstore for more than 50 years. He and his staff reviewed all the kinks they had encountered the previous day and figured out how to fix them.


But even then, his new customers wouldn’t leave them alone. Micheletti’s staff had left a note on the closed front door with his phone number so vendors could find him. By the end of Monday, he had received 13 texts and two calls from would-be customers asking when Romeo’s Coffee would re-open, he said.

The scene at Romeo’s Coffee. Photo: Ted Friedman
Baristas at Romeo’s Coffee. Photo: Ted Friedman
Romeo’s menu. Photo: Ted Friedman

On Tuesday, Romeo’s Coffee reopened and business has been “brisk,” ever since, said Micheletti. It is generally three-quarters to full at all times.

There is super fast Wi-Fi, said Micheletti, but so far he hasn’t encountered squatters who nurse one cup of coffee for eight hours.

The café has one section for pour-over coffee, which will feature around 20 different coffees and one for espresso drinks. The coffees have a caffeine rating system 00 to 03 to designate the potency. Their coffees range from decaffeinated to very strong, said Micheletti.

Romeo’s Coffee is also serving a lineup of local pastries from Starter Bakery, as well as juices, bagels, and sandwiches.

In 2014, Telegraph Partners LLC bought the building, which sits on the corner of Telegraph and Dwight Way. The partnership, which includes, Ito Ripsteen, completely remodeled the space after Shakespeare & Company shut its doors in June 2015 after 51 years in business. Ripsteen transformed the former store into a sleek and modern space, not something seen frequently on Telegraph Avenue. Micheletti had hoped to open Romeo’s Café in the fall of 2016, but the building permits took longer than expected, he said.