High Street Coffee Gallery (1978)

A review of a new coffeehouse recently opened in Eugene, circa November 1978, written by *Lamont Cranston, a Lenny’s Nosh Bar regular and journalist for various underground zines in Eugene from 1976-1985.


Hoping to attract a more intellectual crowd of conversationalists instead of drawing a mob of rabble rousers plotting to overthrow mainstream culture, Ann Blandin and Josephine Cole have opened a new cofffeehouse and art gallery in a cozy house built at the start of the Mexican Revolution that features a fireplace, high-ceiling rooms, large windows, and creaky floorboards.

Not to say that nouveau beatniks in Eugene aren’t welcome, but the proprietors of the place between East 12th and East 13th avenues are striving to create a more European-style esthetic instead of a beat vibe. A place for people to hang out, sip coffee, and exchange ideas. In fact, the sign in front of High Street Coffee Gallery seems to set the stage for high culture, by illustrating the picture of a dapper-looking Dickensian gent facing a lady in Renaissance Faire drag, as he pours her a cup of jamoke by tipping his gooseneck coffee pot top hat into her coffee cup bonnet.

Even richer culture can be had in your belly from the pastries served with your coffee, especially a fancy French pastry called Paris-Brest; a delectable almond-encrusted bicycle-wheel-shaped pâte à choux filled with praline cream.

Best of all, Lenny Nathan is the in-house chef, and one of his specialties is chocolate rum cheesecake (as well as strawberry, eggnog, and plain cheesecakes) which he’s been making and selling at the Eugene Saturday Market since he moved to town to open a restaurant this year with his son, Nano. That restaurant fell through, but Lenny is treating it like a temporary setback and he’s making the best of things by cooking for the coffeehouse—preparing daily soups, served with locally made French bread, as well as whipping up Saturday brunch omelettes and Sunday brunch crêpes.

The background music in the gallery is either classical or jazz, the art on the walls is locally sourced, and a brick patio is available for seating when the weather is nice.

Chess players are welcome and boards are provided. Smoking is prohibited.

High Street Coffee Gallery is located at 1243 High Street.

Open 7:00am-12:00am Weekdays
9:00am-1:00am Saturday & 11:00am-2:00pm Sunday


*Lamont Cranston is not the same man as the alter-ego of The Shadow but he is definitely a pseudonym and may also be a fictional character.

Resolution #1 • Make Memorable Impressions

I want to get out more often and meet strangers at parties, without the usual excuses that most people have when contemplating attending a social gathering.

I’m not a hardcore introvert that revels in being reserved and I don’t need a lot of solitude. Social anxiety doesn’t paralyze me to the point of panicking at the thought of speaking to strangers in public spaces. My social awkwardness feels normal and pedestrian. A bit of insecurity, a dash of shyness and fear of saying something inappropriate—the usual glitches in self-esteem that most people feel around others to some degree.

And so, before going to a holiday party and gift exchange the other night, at a house in a town in a state where the only people I knew were the two people that invited me, I decided, without forethought of acting in a certain way or saying something specific, to bring something that has usually eased my discomfort when navigating unfamiliar social situations.

I brought my sense of humor. It’s my superpower, release valve, and security blanket.

My ability to think quickly, improvise, and play with words, is my greatest asset. And, the trick for me is to not be too flashy or loud, or try too hard or too much; but wait for the right moment, in a pause in conversation, and the right context—to say the one thing that will be memorable to the strangers in my midst.

To make an impression by saying something provocative and funny.

So, when I went to select my gift at the Christmas tree, I stepped up boldly and asked the group to raise their hands if I should open it. The masses spoke so I did.

It was a large plastic jar of mayonnaise.

Appalled by the incredible lameness of the present, I dared not show on my face the crushing disappointment I felt. Instead, I said with an exaggerated smile of delight:

“This is exactly what I wanted! I’m saving it for the orgy later.”