In the heart of Gresham
An unsolicited review, by JACQUES NECHQUES. Recommended number of wine glasses before reading this piece:
resham's downtown Cafe Delirium is a gem. But what, exactly, is its allure? In my opinion, it can’t be the food or coffee. Both are acceptable, but not outstanding.
My conclusion: Location and atmosphere have combined to make CD a downtown institution.
Cafe Delirium has been around since before Shane Bemis was born, it seems. Maybe not. But in its long life, CD has established itself as the place to be—and be seen—in downtown Gresham. Rarely will you step inside and not encounter a vibrant group of people talking, coffee-ing and perhaps, eating.
CD is mostly a coffee shop (to me, anyway), although it does serve meals (sandwiches, soups). The food is good, but nothing to write home about. To be honest, if I’m there over lunchtime, I’ll often step across the street and have some Sunny Han's. But the coffee shop is nice. It’s an eclectic mix of over-stuffed couches (they recently replaced the davenport that scared me—seemed like a dust-pit) tall and low tables, and a nice sit-up counter that faces out to the intersection. There’s definitely a retro feel. It’s quite comfortable, actually, and it certainly has no hint of being a “chain.” (By the way, as I type this, one of the local baristas from that Mermaid chain is at my 9:00, enjoying his day off, no doubt.)
In the summertime I love to sit at one of CD’s outdoor tables and watch the people and cars mix it up at 3rd and Main. While Gresham certainly isn’t Paris, it’s fun to pretend, as you sip your coffee at a sidewalk table. I know of no other setting in downtown that has such a “community” feel. This intersection is arguably the center of historic downtown Gresham, especially when you consider the pedestrian activity. Cars gather along Powell, Division and Burnside; people gather at the shops that surround CD’s block. This “center” of Gresham is a haven for families with small kids, singles, business people and coffeehouse-flies like myself. And all of these demographics are regularly represented at CD.
Inside, the background music is perfectly subtle. (As I type this, Shawn Mendes is wooing his teenage fan base, but you have to almost crane your neck to hear him. Ah Shawn… to be 17, cute, amazingly-talented, and filthy rich.) There’s artwork for sale on the walls. An old bookshelf with table games to play. A quieter, more-private back room provides solitude with three or four small tables; aspiring novelists find this a great place to write their inspiring novels.
The coffee is good; the sweets are too. (Right now I’m having a cinnamon-swirl scone, which is kind of dry.) Yet I doubt many people go out of their way to visit CD because of the coffee or the food. My guess is that Cafe Delirium is so popular because of its location, and because of the very nice, homey, totally “Gresham” coffeehouse atmosphere it provides.