Best Collectibles Cafe: Faithful to coffee, relics, tchotchkes, and God

Central Perk

If you relish the idea of coffee and a sandwich in the company of a thousand jack-in-the-boxes, then head for Central Perk any day of the week. When you step inside, you might feel you’ve walked into a twisted dream, depending on your relationship with bobblehead dolls, which also number a thousand. Then there are the retro telephones and lamps, the life-size Grinch, the larger-than-life Homer J. Simpson who sings and dances, and more wild and wonderful items than the most overactive brain can imagine. There’s free wifi, comfy couches, and refectory-type tables and chairs for the cafe-minded. “We want people to come in and reclaim a bit of their past,” says Sue Fox, who co-owns the eccentric museum-shop-slash-cafe with husband Ron. He does the antiques, specializing in Bohemian glass from the 1800s and earlier, and edits a magazine for beer stein collectors. She handles the collectibles, having started out collecting trolls at age eight. The couple were visiting the East Bay from New York a couple of years ago when they drove past the empty store at the corner of San Pablo and Central. “Write down the number,” Ron told Sue. She did — and next thing you know, they’d sold up back East and were driving the first of three mammoth tractor-trailer loads of stock cross-country. The pair have been working eighteen-hour days since they opened in October 2006. All the food is made in-house, and they host live music starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday — and Bible study on Tuesdays.

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