Music for April – Genna & Jesse


Join us this Friday; April 26th at the Alley Cat Cafe and West End Theatre for live music with Genna & Jesse from San Francisco.  Tickets are $8.00, doors open at 6:30, show starts at 7:00.  Check out a sample of what you can expect:

Genna & Jesse

Genna and Jesse are duo alchemy at its finest. Sweet and savory, raspy and smooth, together they create a unique vocal sound, and then they complement that blend with Jesse’s prowess at the piano and guitar. Whether they sing their own songs, or the well-chosen songs of their peers, audiences are along for the ride in an intimate and inclusive show.

Their live performances are gentle and inviting – yet powerful – due in part to
solid stagecraft and a comfort level with their music and with each other. Another big factor in their shows is Genna’s subtle phrasing and exceptional interpretation. She delivers songs as gifts to an audience. The stunning harmonies that Genna and Jesse weave are the final secret ingredient in their performance magic.

They are not content to perform only their own songs, however. With so much talent flying under the commercial radar, Genna and Jesse actively seek out and perform songs by lesser-known artists who they meet in their travels and collaborations. Their evocative performances of these tunes provide a springboard for connecting community – artists and audiences. Every show is different because they are not content to sit in their comfort zone. They stretch their creative boundaries, finding new music and playing with it – truly playing WITH it, having fun.

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Daring Greatly in 2013


It’s that time of year again….. when we take stock and make resolutions or intentions for the next year.  I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, like many of us.  Looking over the last year it seems like I’ve been getting my ass kicked on a regular basis.  What I know about my life is that when I’m getting my ass kicked, there’s work to do.

My favorite part of my job is the “over the counter” conversations I get to have with all kinds of people.  Over the last six months I’ve had a lot of these.  I’m hearing a common thread: people are struggling and most of us are doing it alone.  Why?  Is it shame? Is it fear?  Is it the unfortunate misconception that reaching out and being vulnerable is weakness? A lot of people are looking towards unhealthy ways to cope; drinking more, shopping more, zoning out more.  None of which really helps, it just covers up the pain temporarily, sometimes even making it worse in the end.

In Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly“  she says that this last decade has been the most difficult in American history.  Starting with 9-11, the economy taking a dive, unemployment records being set, people loosing their homes, and horrific school shootings.  No wonder we are struggling.

Looking at my own silent struggles, I’ve looked to what I look to for relief and inspiration: books and movies that are about solution.  Through reaching out and voicing my own difficulties (talk about Daring Greatly!), I’ve been introduced to Brene’ Brown, Martha Beck, books about new discoveries in neural pathways and how we absolutely can restructure how our brain responds to past pain,  I’ve re-discovered Pema Chodron.  I’ve watched movies like “I Am”  and “Happy” and Youtube interviews and TED talks.

One afternoon I came across a Youtube video of an interview with Jonathan Fields author of “Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance” and Brene Brown, author of “The Gifts of Imperfection“, “I Thought It Was Just Me” and her most recent: “Daring Greatly”.  In the interview, Jonathan and Brene had an epiphany;  most entrepreneurs have an idea about a product or service and then go out and find people to sell it to.  Jonathan said, instead, what if we reached out to a community that we want to be of service to and start having deep and intense conversations with them.  Find out what they are feeling, what we are feeling, what their needs are, and then, build a solution around those needs? Jonathan also spoke about the most successful businesses are those who are flexible, those that morph with the current needs and desires.

That same morning I came upon this quote on Twitter: “Create what you want to be part of.” So, I am.

Since the Cafe is one of the things that is presently kicking my butt, I have the perfect opportunity to put these things into practice.  With the combination of cafe and theatre I have this great venue at my disposal.  It is perfect, not only for the plays that it was built for, but for workshops, retreats, video viewings and discussion groups.  I want to be part of a place that brings inspiration and tools for healing to this community.   Here are just a few of the events that are bouncing around in my head for this year:

January 26th 9:00 am to 4:00 pm – A day of Pema where we will watch Pema Chodron’s on-line retreat: “Fully Alive;  Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change“  We will spend the day listening to Pema and meditating.  It will include a vegetarian lunch.

February – A day long workshop based on Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly”.

March – A day long workshop based on Martha Beck’s book “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World… Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want”

Monthly TED Talks and a discussion afterward.

We have already started a book club and our first book discussion was on Brene Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection…. Your Guide To a Wholehearted Life”.  It was supposed to go for two sessions, but we weren’t through talking about it so we extended it through January.  We meet on Tuesdays at 3:30.

I’m writing this particular blog to commit to my New Year’s Resolution:  a year of Daring Greatly…. I’m saying it out loud, so on those days when it’s hard to get out of bed, when I’m afraid to try out my newest idea, or when I think it’s all for naught, you can remind me of my commitment.  And, I invite you to join me. Dare Greatly this year…. I double dog dare you!




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I just finished this months Book Club book:  “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, PhD.  One of the many things that struck me was the significance she put on the need for connection.  She defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”  Yep, that’s it.  Furthermore, she says that we are “hard wired” for connection.  It’s in our biology.

She goes on to say, “Our innate need for connection makes the consequences of disconnection that much more real and dangerous.  Sometimes we only think we are connected. ”  In today’s age of social media, we think we are connecting, and on some level I think we are…. but nothing can replace the true connectedness we feel when we look someone in the eye and share with them, when we can see in their face that they are truly “getting us”.

When I was in the planning stages of the Alley Cat Cafe someone told me I needed a “Tag Line”.  I had just finished reading a book called:  “The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and other Hang Outs at the Heart of a Community”  by Ray Oldenburg .  In it he explains the importance of having a third place which he describes as places, “ where people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation – (these places) are the heart of a community’s social vitality and the grassroots of democracy.”.  My Tag Line is ‘A Place To Gather’.

Brene Brown says, “One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on ‘going it alone.’  Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone.”

During this weeks book discussion group I was thinking about how I’ve seen a drastic drop in how many people stay and ”hang out” or “gather” in the last few months.  Lately customers come in, get their coffee and go on their way.  I started to think about the struggles that we are experiencing in our little town, like many places in the country; loss of jobs, hours being cut, funding being cut…. lack, lack, lack!

Is our fear of vulnerability keeping us from reaching out? Are we all silently struggling alone?  Are we doing the exact opposite of what we need to do to make it through this?  Are we isolating instead of connecting?

Dr. Brown continues by saying, “The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance.  It’s a path of consciousness and choice.  And, to be honest, it’s a little counter-culture.  The willingness to tell our stories, feel the pain of others, and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can do halfheartedly.  To practice courage, compassion, and connection is to look at life and the people around us, and say, ‘I’m all in.’”

I’m all in…. how about you?

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Sustainability Dedication Award


Sustainability Dedication Award 2012

Of all the awards the Alley Cat Cafe has won, being acknowledged for our dedication to sustainability is the one I am most proud of.

When the idea of opening the cafe first popped into my brain, I am embarrassed to say I didn’t have a clue what “Fair Trade” was.  Of course as soon as I was educated on the subject, there was never any doubt that we would only serve coffee that was “traded fairly”.

Since opening, I have learned about chocolate, tea and sugar.  Some of those facts were uncomfortable to learn about.  I’m not sure what the statistics are now, but I was appalled to learn a few years ago that a huge percentage of the chocolate that is consumed in the United States is grown by slaves………SLAVES!  The next day I found a source of Fair Trade chocolate and have served it ever since.

We also serve only Fair Trade sugar and tea.

My next blog will go further into the different labels such as “Fair Trade” and “Direct Trade”  and “Fairly Traded”…. it’s all very confusing, I know.  But, when you take that sip of coffee from the Alley Cat Cafe, you can be sure of one thing:  the farmer that grew the coffee in your cup got a fair price for his labor.  And the chocolate that is in your mocha was not grown or harvested by SLAVES.  I feel good about that.


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The Importance of Teamwork Even in a Coffee House


Anyone who knows the Hatzell family knows what sports enthusiasts we all are.  Put it this way;  Rachel’s first word was not mommy or daddy, it was “Ball”.  I actually don’t even know how I was allowed into the Hatzell Clan – not being athletic at all!  Over the years of sitting in the bleachers and driving all over Northern California for various teams, listening to conversations of the teammates and coaches I’ve learned a thing or two about teamwork.

The Hatzell Team

As I’ve watched countless games of various forms of “ball”, I’ve seen what happens when the teamwork falls apart; when nobody is there to backup the 2nd baseman who misses a throw, or when no one is there to tip a missed shot into the basket.  When someone makes an error and teammates yell at them things start to unravel quickly.  I’ve also seen what happens when they support each other no matter what; they win championships.  That’s the kind of team we have at the Alley Cat Cafe.

I am so very blessed with our “team”.  Not only our employees who are amazing, but my family.  My husband, Bob,  listens to me when I’ve had a harder than normal day, he has never said, “well, maybe we should close the cafe”.  He is my go to guy when things break, sometimes in the middle of his day at his own job, he’s the guy that says, “you’ll feel better after you get some sleep”. He is my rock.

My kids…. My kids have supported me through bad days and good.  They were there to paint and mop and wipe my tears sometimes.  I’ve missed games, and not been able to make birthday cakes or cut the tree for Christmas until the night before when we cut down one in our front yard.  They’ve both worked long hours at the register and cleaning up at the end of the day.   My mother-in-law, God bless her, makes runs to Chico whenever I need supplies, cooks dinner for us sometimes when I’m so tired we would have just eaten cereal, and she’s done her share of dishes too.

Team Alley Cat at Sparkle

One of the things I am very proud of is being able to provide jobs in our small town.  We’ve had a lot of employees over the years, all have had their good points and shortcomings.  I have learned from them all.  The group we have working at the Alley Cat now is the most cohesive group we’ve ever had, it’s a solid team.  We have each other’s backs, they never complain about extra work, even when I ask them to dress like “Who’s from Whoville for Sparkle”, they listen to instructions and know what their job is.  They each believe in the value of what we are doing at the Alley Cat. I never have to wonder if someone will show up for their shift and I look forward to seeing each one of them everyday and think of them as family.  I’ve asked a lot of them this last month with the theatre opening and all the extra hours.  I want them to know how much they mean to me.  The cafe would not be here if not for them all.

Thank you Team Alley Cat!



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The coffee growing process


Coffee Cherries

Did you know it can take five years from the time a coffee seed is planted to actually being able to harvest a coffee cherry?  Think about that for a minute.  A farmer has planted and weeded and watered and nurtured that tree for five years before he can pick a single coffee cherry to sell.

After those five years the harvesting can’t be done all at once because the cherries don’t ripen at the same time.  They have to be picked individually as they become ripe.  Some of the larger farms have huge machines that pick everything at once including green, half ripe or over ripe cherries, it’s costly and you end up with lower quality beans.

Then comes the cleaning, the drying, the sorting and the hauling to the warehouse (sometimes miles on a bike or walking with the bag on their head).  After the green beans have been sold, they travel on ship to America, where the roaster takes over.

Drying the beans

The roasted beans are then packaged and sent to the retailer or the coffee shop, like the Alley Cat Cafe, where the barista painstakingly, yet lovingly prepares your latte.  It took a lot of hands to make that morning cup of coffee……


Love in a cup



Coffee Growing on YouTube

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Theatre and Coffee in Quincy, Ca.


West End Theater & Alley Cat Cafe, Quincy, CA.

When Earl Thompson, owner of the West End Theatre in Quincy, approached me about possibly opening the Alley Cat Cafe in his lobby I was hesitant to say the least.  The West End Theatre has been in various phases of construction for ten years.  When we had our first conversation about it all, the building was framed and had a few electrical wires installed, other than that it was a shell.

The Shell... we've come far!

Eleven months later, after many meetings, many points of compromise (mostly on Earl’s side) and many tears (mostly on my side) the Alley Cat Cafe opened it’s doors in the lobby of the, still under construction, West End Theatre.

Alley Cat Cafe in the lobby of West End Theatre Quincy, Ca.

Now, I am not what you would call a theatre buff, so when Earl put up the white columns out front I couldn’t understand why he would install these big things especially in a small town like Quincy.  When I started looking into the history of theater I realized there is a similarity to a famous theater in London; the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.  When I looked up West End Theater in Wikipedia I found this explanation:

Theater Royal London

West End theatre

is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London‘s ‘Theatreland’, the West End.[1] Along with New York‘s Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.  So there you have it.
What does this all mean for Quincy, CA.?  March 16th was the opening of the West End Theater in Quincy.  It was a grand success.  As people were enjoying their small plates and wine before the performance of Parallel Lives I looked out over the dinning room of the lobby and for the first time really understood Earl’s vision.  It is the perfect marriage.  A small intimate black box theatre that holds no more than 150 people and a beautiful cafe.  During intermission guests enjoyed wine, beer, desserts and espresso drinks while they talked about the performance.  Lovely.
This is just the beginning.  The Theater/Cafe combination has potential that hasn’t begun to be tapped into.  Think seminars, showing of documentaries, workshops, buisness retreats and summits.  The state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems with the huge flat screen television could be used for a multitude of presentations.  What a wonderful addition to our small mountain town.
Thanks for the vision Earl!
Serving high quality espresso, pastries and lunch in Plumas County, The Alley Cat Cafe and West End Theater are located at the corner of Highway 70 and Main Street in Quincy, Ca.
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Alley Cat Cafe’s Vision


At the Alley Cat Cafe we believe in amazing coffee and espresso, community, service, quality, accountability, conversation, hospitality, fair trade, organic farming, sustainability, recycling, win-win situations, spontaneity, laughter, art, music, great coffee and comfort food to soothe the soul.

We hope that the Alley Cat is the kind of place that people come to for comfort in hard times, to celebrate in good times and to gather for important and not so important conversations.


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Conversation Cafe at the Alley Cat Cafe


We have come so very far with today’s technology.  We can send a message to millions of people at the click of a button, but we have a hard time looking each other in the eye and saying hello.  We have little cartoon characters to show that we are smiling and abreviations to say we are laughing, but we have difficulty smiling with our own lips at a cashier or a waitress.  I believe that we have forgotten how to have one-on-one conversations and these conversations are so very important in saving ourselves as a society. 

From the beginning of my dream for the cafe, I wanted to create a place that people could gather, to rest, to un-plug and to re-connect with our fellow humans.  I am very proud to say that the Alley Cat Cafe has become a meeting place for important conversations. Throughout the week I look out over the tables and can see conversations happening.  Conversations about Occupy Quincy, about creating a sustainable community, topics like; “What can we do about the possible closure of some of our precious schools?”, “What can we do to keep important offices open during difficult economic times?”  Sometimes these conversations die out before any sollutions are found, but often times wonderful outcomes happen as a result of a few people talking over a cup of coffee.

In her book Turning To One Another, Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, Margaret Wheatley says, “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again.”  I absolutely believe this.  However, it takes courage to start these kinds of conversations.  We think, “What if people don’t like what I have to say?”, “What if they don’t want to hear what I have to say?”.  I have often times thought these thoughts, but being the person I am I take the risk to speak out.  It has gotten me into trouble at times.  Usually when the people I’m telling the truth to don’t want to hear the truth.  More often than not, though, I find out that other people wanted to say these things but were afraid and held back.  My message to you is, do not hold back, please share, please engage in important conversations…… you just might help save us all.

In the aftermath of 9/11 the concept of the Conversation Cafe was born.  People who didn’t have a church or other type of fellowship needed a place to process their thoughts and feelings about what had happened.  Conversation Cafes popped up all over in places where people gathered; cafes, barber shops, libraries.  Now they are World wide.  A Conversation Cafe is a gathering of people who want to converse.  There is a topic, and everyone gets a chance to share their thoughts.  It lasts about one hour, so it’s not too big of a time committment.  They’re are only three rules: 

1.  Don’t come to promote anyone or anything. 

2. Don’t try to convince anyone of your rightness and their wrongness

3.  Be a good listener. 

The Alley Cat Cafe hosts a Conversation Cafe every Thursday at 3:00.  Come speak your truth with us.

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Win, Win, Win


Two years ago the new Principal at Quincy High School, Dr. Sue Segura started shaking things up to say the least.  One of her new projects was to extend the Culinary Arts program and add a Pastry Class for advanced students.  She asked our part time Pastry Chef, Nichole Yoacham to teach the class.  What could have been a great loss to the Alley Cat Cafe has turned out to be a win, win, win situation.

The funding for a pastry class comes with an agreement that the class will “pay for itself” by selling everything it produces. Nichole asked me if I’d be interested in buying the dough made by the students and baking it off here so it’s fresh every morning. I jumped on the idea! Thanks to the love Nichole has for the cafe and her students and Dr. Segura’s open mind, the pastry class is thriving. Students are learning all aspects of running a bakery including taking orders and delivering goods.  A win for the students.

The Alley Cat didn’t loose it’s Pastry Chef, we gained a whole classroom of chefs in the making that are using the same organic, high quality ingredients in the same recipes that Nichole used when she worked here.  A win for the Alley Cat.

The last part of that win, win, win situation is our devoted customers who love the fresh scones and cookies that are provided by the students.

The Alley Cat Cafe is proud to be part of this forward thinking, open minded solution and we will continue to be on the look out for win, win possibilities!

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