Aqus Café has been created to foster community; it is a watering hole, a gathering place, a conversation room, a wonderful model of a 3rd space. Here, our main purpose in building community is to provide a space for people to meet, connect and get to know each other. We do this because we believe that to fix the fabric of society we have to first start by meeting, connecting and getting to know each other.
Aqus Café at Foundry Wharf
Builds Unique Brand as Multigenerational Hot Spot
of Southern Sonoma County’s Vibrant Cultural Scene
The bustling scene on a regular weekday morning at Aqus Café at Foundry Wharf might appear to the first time visitor as one not unlike any other popular West Coast coffee shop. Customers at almost every table are immersed in the content of open laptops, their headphones enabling these growing ranks of independent workers to share a slice of real time with conversational groups of community-minded seniors, gaggles of lively teens, technicians, mechanics, hair stylists on break and mid-day meetings of moms with toddlers in tow.
Yet if you sit awhile with your bowl of organic soy latte, steaming mug of exotic herbal tea, it won’t take you long to absorb the extraordinary atmosphere that makes Aqus Café the region’s most talked-about hot spot of modern social capital. It’s a place where old and young, entrepreneurs and retirees, artists, musicians and chief instigators of dense community circles intermingle in a steady and returning stream from dawn ‘til after dusk for regular solid connections above and beyond the chatter of today’s social media networks.
Traditional conversation aside, a deeply held ambition of the Aqus concept partners since 2006 was to bring the community together in a comfortable, welcoming, art-filled space for the mutual benefit of developing a social environment that fosters both a sense of belonging and a cumulative flowering of community spirit.
And as prime pick for ‘third space’ real estate, by those who work mostly outside of the traditional workplace, a table in cozy, but never cramped Aqus Café certainly fits the bill. Not home, not the office and much more convivial than the library, Aqus, with its free Wi-Fi and eclectic breakfast, lunch and supper-time menu, attracts a wide range of professionals and creative types, tucked away in hospitable surrounds of public privacy.
“Where else can a multigenerational tangle of grandparents, parents, teenagers and toddlers listen to outstanding live music in the area?” asks the café’s partner and chief social experimenter, John Crowley. “It’s quite the scene in Sonoma County and absolutely the place to be after work for a glass of wine or a pint of beer.”
Locavore’s delight in an extensive selection of locally produced artisan foods and beverages, from breakfast scrambles and pastries, to delicious panini’s, plentiful vegetarian, wheat-free and gluten-free options, fresh salads and tasty dinner time offerings such as lasagna, a refreshing glass of Lagunitas beer or slice of polenta pie. Three Twins organic ice cream travels half a block from its artisan production facility in the mixed use, light industrial neighborhood in which Aqus Café serves as anchor: part social and cultural center, part café, part European-style pub.
Partner and general manager, Lesley McCullaugh’s Trivia nights are the south county’s ‘battle of the brains’ and a major draw for dozens of intrepid teams, every third Thursday evening of the month.
Grab a monthly events’ schedule off the counter in Aqus and take a pew to peruse the myriad options, under the shade of a red umbrella outside on the flower-filled deck. There’s something for everyone, weekdays 7 am to closing at 10 pm and weekends, Saturday 7.30 am to 10 pm and Sunday 8 am to 8 pm. Catch an intimate performance with a top-notch hometown band such as Hillside Fire, kick back with guitar fusion, blues, folk Americana or sharpen your writing skills at a Speak Easy Literary Saloon. A Pagan gathering one evening might easily segue into a one-woman play, language groups in German, Italian, French, speed networking or live improv comedy.
Popular Redwood Café in neighboring Cotati (also co-owned by the McCullaughs) is busily embracing the social capital buzz that has flourished particularly well during evening hours at Aqus. Now showcasing original art from Sonoma State University, this long-time student and neighborhood all-day eatery has a newly refurbished look and an expanded, free evening entertainment scene. Well on its way to establishing itself as the best regular jazz venue in Sonoma County, the Redwood Café is enjoying its own unique fusion of the sorts of after-work, sunset hour special draws that have put Aqus on the map.
Meet the Partners
If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a collaborative cast of experienced, dedicated and colorful characters to populate the partnership that is the unique team that leads Aqus Café at Foundry Wharf:
If Irish eyes are smiling, as in the 1912 classic ‘The Isle O’Dreams’, John certainly is the green-eyed boy to recreate innate social ambitions derived from his grandfather’s pub in Dublin. “I set out to create a nice place for people to hang out,” says John, whose authentic vision for a multi-generational utopian bonding space in which he could happily hang out at with like-minded friends and neighbors in Petaluma, birthed the evolution of the Aqus concept. John is chief social instigator, champion connection-maker and a regular fixture at the counter throughout the day.
Don’t think for a minute that this English born and bred empress of Aqus Café’s busy counter isn’t in complete control of operations and management during weekday hustle and bustle of Petaluma’s most popular coffee house. Lesley’s illustrious career in fine dining and restaurant expertise dates back to her well-spent teens at the four-star Midland Hotel, Manchester. It is this Lancashire’s lass’s impeccable attention to detail that sets Aqus Café apart from competitors in consistent quality, order and efficiency. Lesley’s your point person for most all enquiries into Aqus Café operational business affairs as well as the brains behind full-house Trivia night, every third Thursday.
Not only is fellow Irish-American, Michael, Mr. Fix-It and Chief Problem Solver at Aqus, anyone doing business with the Café will know him as Chief Negotiator. Michael brings an illustrious lifetime career in the restaurant and bar industry to the artfully streamlined operations of busy Aqus Café. His menu has been carefully developed to accommodate a wide variety of dietary requirements, while maintaining the Café’s reputation for tasty staples from breakfast through lunch and casual dinners. A self-confessed fountain of youth, Michael is often to be found working the crowd with his inimitable charm after a 20-mile loop of the West Country by road bike. As wine buyer for Aqus, Michael’s select picks represent some of the best deals in Petaluma for fine wine by the glass.
Also at Redwood Café, Cotati:
Lesley and Michael McCullaugh’s longtime partnership in popular Redwood Café in neighboring Cotati creates a lively link to the social capital buzz that has flourished particularly well during evening hours at Aqus. Now showcasing original art from Sonoma State University, this long-time student and neighborhood all-day eatery has a newly refurbished look and an expanded, free evening entertainment scene. Well on its way to establishing itself as the best regular jazz venue in Sonoma County, the Redwood Café is enjoying its own unique fusion of the sorts of after-work, sunset hour special draws that have put Aqus on the map.