Zoka Greenlake

Seattle, Washington

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There is a nice phenomenon in some cities, it may be in all cities except Atlanta, but particularly I am thinking of Portland, OR and Seattle, WA, where small intersections deep within residential districts swell slightly with a commercial hub. In the pleasant iterations I have encountered they both contained coffeeshops and idiosyncratic eating establishments as well as convenience grocery shopping, and in the Portland variation, an old movie theater that was at the time showing Night of the Living Dead, which we had trekked there to peep.

Zoka Greenlake

Perhaps these spots are not very far from the thoroughfares and transportation networks, but as we were on bus and foot, our discoveries of them came after passing through what seemed like continuous residential fabrics.

Zoka, although our second choice after the untimely (or so we thought as we had only the chance to eat 2 donuts) closing of Mighty O Donuts right across the intersection, was a cavernous affair. This weekday morning found the entire cafe space, which was enormous, with a large raised laptop concourse, completely packed. There was not a seat in the house. It was a weekday morning, rather close to lunchtime, but not close enough for these people to all be on break. Our excuse was that we were on vacation. What were these people’s excuses? These were the people I loved to hate in Los Angeles, do not see very often in Atlanta, and usually see when I am able to be out and about during the day when I am on vacation. I always wonder what these folks are doing; everyone seems to have a laptop, so they must be ‘working’, but on what foolishness? Regardless of the lack of seats, these were not the sort of folks I wanted to fraternize with so we took a spot on the sidewalk where some stay at home dads were bro’ing down and showing off their kids that they were toting around in vintage Radio Flyer wagons.

Zoka Greenlake

Perhaps this is the price one pays for residential insertion. The flaunting of the idly comfortable, the luxurious days in overcast breezes, and I, only a mere 96 hours from being chained back to my desk, of not seeing the outside of my house in the sunlight. Despite the animosity, I was on vacation and was able to treat this, as I do all of my displaced experiences, as a chance to construct impressions of people and places without the burden of responsibility or routine. So as a detached observer I was still overwhelmed by the crowd but appreciated the way that Zoka took such an enormous space and kept it in scale with the little intersection and with the ideals and aesthetics of a small coffeeshop.

I don’t know in retrospect whether it was the domestic setting, so soothing to us, we practically sat in someone’s front yard, beneath a stand of bamboo, or whether it was because we had just tortured our stomachs with donuts and lattes, or whether out of recognition of the submission to a sort of crowd I loathe in which I had to counter my impulses and assume the posture of an idle afternooner, we eschewed our own coffee project and drank tea.

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Zoka Greenlake

2200 North 56th Street
Seattle, Washington 98103

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