Alan Berkow wants people to know that after over two months of being closed, his Blue Squirrel Cafe is ready for business. With repairs to septic systems behind it, the Blue Squirrel has reopened its doors and is slowly but surely regaining regular customers.
“There was a day when I had everything packed up, and I was going to get a U-Haul to take it all away,” said Berkow. “But what could have ended up being a nightmare has turned into a very special thing with everyone’s concern, interests and I think even their prayers. The customers have been so helpful, it really has been a miracle.”
Problems arose last fall, when the small restaurant packed wall to wall with blues and jazz music memorabilia was shut down for sanitation problems resulting from a faulty septic system. Berkow made his way through the red tape to get the proper repairs done, and the Blue Squirrel started serving again on January 11, despite having only the ability to make 75 percent of the menu.
“I couldn’t wait until I had everything ready, I’m just too excited,” he said. “It’s great to be able to wake up and fight – to believe in something, to believe in this place.”
Berkow is working to get his restaurant back to full speed, despite some minor setbacks. He says that the community has gone well out of their way to help get the cafe on its feet.
“They repossessed my Coke machine, so I’m working to get some other drinks in here … Dr. Browns, black cherry, and Voodoo Rain,” he said. “A guy came in the other day, asked for coffee, and I had to tell him that they took my coffee machine. He wrote me a $400 check. The customers have been great.”
Many customers missed the restaurant during its period of forced renovation.
“Oh God, we missed this place bad,” said graduate student Nancy Baldwin, who was making her first visit since the reopening. “We came by several times, hoping that it would be open and we got lucky this time.”
“We pretty much lived here as undergraduates,” said Tricia Singleton. “We’d come here usually at least twice a week.”
The main focus of the restaurant is on keeping things organic, and on maintaining a good atmosphere between employees and customers. The restaurant’s menu includes veggie burgers, wraps, focaccia pizzas, soups and salads.
“Everybody’s doing cheeseburgers and fries nowadays, and I wanted to do something different so I just went on faith,” said Berkow. “A lot of people thought I was nuts, and here I am, still open three years later. I’m either crazy, or I’m in love with this place. Most people would say that I’m both.”