Wescafe Brings Style to 1518 Webster Street
Story by James Smallman
Award Recipients: Monica & Miguel Trejo
Wescafe is a wonderful example of adaptive re-use. Owners Miguel and Monica Trejo acquired the badly damaged building about four years ago. A series of unsuccessful restaurants preceded their ownership, and concerned friends tried to convince Miguel and Monica to open their restaurant on Park Street, which was perceived to be a more inviting atmosphere. Monica felt that Webster Street “needed” them, however, and the very successful restaurant that now anchors their block is the result of their determination. Then-mayor Beverly Johnson told them, as the restoration began, that their restaurant was Alameda’s most critical: If it succeeded, it would encourage other entrepreneurs to come to Webster Street, but if it failed it might set Webster Street back years. As it happened, a renaissance of Webster Street has evolved over the years since that first tentative step. Street trees, new restaurants and outdoor seating areas now grace the area.
As a friendly historical nod to the street, Monica and Miguel commissioned a wonderful mural which graces the back wall of the food preparation area. It shows a view down Webster Street a century earlier, when electric trains ran along the street. (In a little bit of artistic license, the train in the mural is a steam train, of the kind that ran on Lincoln Avenue.)
In passing, it should be noted that the rebirth of Webster Street as a vibrant pedestrian-friendly commercial area continues. Visitors to Wescafe will observe serious construction going on next door. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2017, a Cambodian restaurant is being developed. Monica says that the owner has visited her place and instructed her designers to be inspired by what has been done at Wescafe.