The Bay Cafe is almost gone.
Many years ago, I loved to grab some food in the small waterfront cafe and bring it up onto the rooftop. From a table beneath an umbrella, I’d gaze out at the sparkling water. I’d observe passing sailboats, people on the Broadway Pier, and cruise ships docked at the nearby terminal. When two or more huge cruise ships were in port, I’d watch with interest as the departing Coronado ferry and harbor tour boats navigated the narrow space between them. In those days, the Bay Cafe also served as an embarkation hub for San Diego Harbor Excursion, now called Flagship. A ramp from inside the deli plunged down to a floating dock, where a gift shop was housed in a special boat. On this small dock a harbor cruise photographer asked guests to pose by a life preserver.
Up on the roof, if I wanted a change of view, I’d grab another table where I could gaze back toward downtown and watch tourists flow along Harbor Drive. There were almost always several empty tables. Few people seemed to realize the rooftop was open.
The Bay Cafe’s roof was also used for many years by broadcasters covering parades down Harbor Drive. From up there you could see everything.
My walk this morning brought back those memories. And a bit of sadness. The Bay Cafe is being demolished as I type these very words. The structure will be removed, but the concrete pad and pilings will remain, as part of an observation platform jutting over the water. It’s just one small part of the Embarcadero’s recent renovation. I’m sure the change will be great. I believe there are supposed to be benches where folks can just sit and enjoy the views. If there are, I’ll surely enjoy them. But time and progress march on. The Bay Cafe is almost just a memory.