Eating Out: Tower District's Revue Cafe becomes Mia Cuppa Cafe

October 21, 2013 

Longtime coffee shop Revue Cafe has new ownership and a new name — but it's still the same old Tower District hangout.

The business was renamed the Mia Cuppa Caffe after local artist Mark DeRaud and his wife, Wendy, purchased it in September.

DeRaud originally thought they'd make some big changes, "paint everything and make everything bright and shiny." But the more he learned about "the Revue community" and the coffee shop's history, the more he wanted to keep the things that give the 16-year-old cafe its personality.

"There aren't too many places like this in Fresno," he says. "We're more like stewards of what the Revue already was."

DeRaud likes to use the term community because there's a bit of a blurred line between customers and workers here. Take the guy who puts out the tables and hoses off the patio every morning. He's not an employee. He's a customer who's just there at that time every morning and does it.

Once DeRaud pulled up with a load of stuff in his truck and three guys jumped up to help him without asking. He asked them why they were so quick to help.

"They just look at me and go, 'It's the Revue.'"

The gaggle of smokers on the patio who are die-hard regulars act as consultants, weighing in on what DeRaud should change and what he shouldn't.

Coffee is at the top of the list of changes. DeRaud says Revue used to serve Costco coffee. Now it's serving locally made coffee from several places, including Fresno-based Fabiano's Coffee, which you may have had at the Vineyard Farmers Market. Their "black magic" coffee — strong, but not bitter — is proving popular at Mia Cuppa.

It also carries coffee from Mariposa Coffee Co. and Fresno's Lanna Coffee, which donates a portion of its sales to community development efforts with "hill tribes" in northern Thailand.

It may seem counterintuitive to change the coffee shop's name when you want to retain the essence of the place. But DeRaud says he hopes the name change is a signal to people to come back and try out the coffee again.

The cold, noncoffee drinks remain and they'll soon add bottled drinks for people on the go. The light lunches and pastries continue, though the croissants and mini danishes are now from La Boulangerie.

DeRaud will add a little breakfast sandwich that he invented: a poached egg, ham and cheese cooked in a cup and then served on a bagel or English muffin.

DeRaud looks every bit like you'd imagine an artist/coffee shop owner would: gray newsboy cap, cardigan, soft-spoken. He did the murals inside Irene's restaurant and Me-N-Ed's around Fresno.

So it's no surprise that one of the first changes he made was to put up some local art. The big paintings now hanging on the wall are by local boy Dan Vanderhoof, who is in school in Kansas City to become a professional illustrator.

He hopes Mia Cuppa will become a regular ArtHop stop. And they'll probably get more use out of the performance space in back, too, swapping out the theater chairs for tables.

Another noticeable change? Kim Kardashian is going away. That's what DeRaud calls the large bar and counter.

"It has great curves, but it's kind of useless and in the way," he says.

Kim will be moved to the back room and a new bar made from solid oak doors will replace it.

Denny's

Everybody has seen a Denny's before, but you may not have seen one like the new one in Clovis.

The newly built Denny's in the Clovis Crossing Regional Shopping Center, at Herndon and Clovis avenues opened Oct. 13. It's the company's new design and features brighter colors, more open seating and modern design.

The new Jamba Juice in the same center is also open.

The reporter can be reached at bclough@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6431.

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