Karl Heiman has been running Pergolesi for the last 11 years.
Karl Heiman has owned Caffe Pergolesi, the venerable local coffee institution housed in what was once a dentist’s office, for 11 years. We caught up with Heiman, who serves on the Downtown Commission and Downtown Association Board, on the coffee shop patio.
SCW: What’s your favorite room here out of the four?
KARL HEIMAN: The blue room is my favorite, because it’s got the big windows. If you look up in the ceiling, it’s got this beautiful hand-painted ceiling. I don’t know who did it, but it was done about 20, 30 years ago, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Do you have any goals for the feel here?
What we like to do is provide a place that’s fun, comfortable, easy to be at. And then we focus on local food, quality food. We have 10 or 12 local suppliers— Aunt Nettie's Kitchen, Kerri’s Cookies, Shelley’s Biscotti, Kind Grind pastries. The other thing we try to do is be a good deal. Coffee’s gotten to be so expensive. And we’re kind of a coffeehouse beer garden out here.
Coffee or tea?
I prefer coffee. I probably drink too much coffee—between two and six shots a day of coffee. It’s hard not to because—well, it’s organic and it’s really good, but to be honest with you if I have coffee, I get a lot more done.
So, what kind of coffee?
The espresso drinks. I don’t drink the brewed because I like having it with soy. We also have almond milk. I drink a cross between a latte and a cappuccino. It’s got more steamed milk than a cappuccino and less than a latte.
Do you have a name for that?
No, but people come in and order the craziest things, and we’re thinking about naming some of them after them. And we have a wide tea selection, and they’ll combine a jasmine and a ginger or green tea and a chamomile.
What are the tenants upstairs like?
They’re good. They’re college students. There’s three or four of them—they come and go over the years as they graduate, but they’re good people. In fact, a lot of them come down and study.
How would you improve downtown?
Give me a piece of paper, and I’ll make you a list. The first is infrastructure. Fixing the roads, the cracks in the pavement. Cleaning up litter is another. Number three: cleaning up the street level parking lots. I think it would be great if the side streets had as much decoration as Pacific Avenue.