Finding Strength in Community at The Velo Rouge
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At The Velo Rouge Cafe, the priority is community. For General Manager Lynn Wang, that’s been her goal since she took over last year. Lynn sees incredible value in fostering strong relationships with her customers and staff; it’s proven crucial during these difficult times.
Located just outside of the Golden Gate park, The Velo Rouge is a neighborhood treasure. The bicycle mounted onto the ceiling right above the entrance is iconic. The customer service is exceptional. And, at this point, Lynn finds herself easily remembering the names of customers and anticipating their orders each time they come in.
“Sometimes, maybe a customer had a bad day, but it’s your job to make it better,” says Lynn. “We’re going to have to meet all different people everyday. We’re selling service. It’s part of our job.”
The cafe began as a family-owned establishment, previously owned by Amy Jo Brown and Ciaran & Siobhan McFeeney. The cafe is now owned by Eric Kim.
In the previous owners’ final Facebook farewell to their cafe community, they wrote, “[We] cannot thank all the wonderful customers, staff, musicians and artists enough for supporting us over the years. All of you have made the Velo a wonderful snug of community and friendship.”
Before the quarantine took effect on March 15, community and relationships remained the crux of this lively hub, a place for the local neighborhood to come and enjoy the company of fellow community members or stop by for a cup of coffee.
Aside from the great customer service, the menu features several dishes that keep customers loyal and coming back for more. One example is the Leipheimer Breakfast Burrito, a mountainous burrito stuffed with two eggs, black beans, home fries, cheddar cheese, salsa, avocado and sour cream, with an optional choice of meat.
Another popular item that customers frequently order is the Mt. Ventoux Breakfast Sandwich. Filled with a grilled egg, bacon, and jack cheese, the sandwich is the perfect meal to kickstart your day or take with you on a walk to the Golden State Park. (pre-quarantine times, of course.)
Perhaps the most communal aspect of The Velo Rouge’s presence is the Friday night performances by local musicians and comedians. Each week, Lynn’s staff would organize an artist to perform and market the event to the community. These events played a great role in fostering the sense of connectedness between both her staff and community members that, today, has helped The Velo Rouge survive.
“For Velo Rouge, we’re lucky that we still have all the neighbors supporting us. They told us that they would at least come for a cup of coffee to help us stay open,” says Lynn. “We’re all a family here…Everyone is just so nice and supportive.”
The cafe’s many relationships are grounded in simply showing up for each other. It’s not just the food itself, but the space and what it has meant to the community that makes the cafe so special.
There’s a woman who comes in everyday. She orders the same thing, a breakfast sandwich, sometimes a coffee to complement her dish. No matter the order, she tips generously. Everyday.
To support The Velo Rouge, please find them on GrubHub, Uber Eats and Postmates. Or, if possible, feel free to call-in and order and stop by to say hello.
It’s small gestures like these which mean a lot to Lynn, who understands the universal pain that everyone is experiencing. However, despite the community’s great efforts to support the business, Lynn remains uncertain about its future.
“I’m not sure how long we can handle this,” says Lynn. “I’ve been talking to other customers, and you know they’re trying to help, but everyone has their own problem too right now. Everyone is suffering.”
Still, Lynn and the rest of her team are adamant about their responsibility to the community. In preparing for the possibility of reopening, Lynn says she wants to make sure the environment is safe for everyone.
Until the time comes to reopen the cafe’s doors, Lynn and her staff remain grateful to the neighborhood and hope to see their loyal customers soon.
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