Romeo’s Coffee opens on Telegraph Avenue, blending coffee with love

Kevin Reber/Staff

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With a menu featuring a list of steamy beverages with names such as “Intoxicated” and “Love Potion” Romeo’s Coffee opened Sunday, replacing the space formerly occupied by Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, one of the oldest bookstores in Berkeley.

The coffee shop, which was set to open in fall 2016, experienced a delay in getting construction plans approved by the city of Berkeley. Since its opening on Telegraph Avenue and Dwight Way, Romeo’s Coffee has been bustling with customers.

“(The turnout) was beyond our wildest expectations,” said Dino Micheletti, co-owner of Romeo’s Coffee.

At Romeo’s, caffeinated drinks are listed under a rating system with “one kiss” representing the least caffeinated drinks and “three kisses” indicating the most caffeinated. At night, the lights are dimmed to create “night club vibes” so that customers can experience having coffee in a different environment. Micheletti said they “wanted Romeo’s to set a stage.”

“I think (Romeo’s) will be value-added because this is sort of the new wave of Telegraph (Avenue),” said Ito Ripsteen, the developer of the project. “It is (a) very hip and happening, nonchain local operator that has created a buzz.”

Yolanda Castillo, one of the managers at Romeo’s Coffee, said her experience working there so far has been fun and inspiring.

According to Castillo, Romeo’s Coffee will be successful because it is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. most days of the week, which she said is longer than many Berkeley cafés are open. She added that instead of “selling water and a little bit of coffee,” they are “selling pure coffee and a little bit of water.

Ashmita Tuladhar, an employee at Pasta Bene, which is located on Telegraph Avenue, said she went to Romeo’s the Sunday it opened. She said she believes Romeo’s will have tough competition because Peet’s Coffee is located across the street. She added, however, that she still believes Romeo’s will be successful because of the large student population in Berkeley.

When asked about the opening of an additional coffee shop in Berkeley, campus freshman Nicole Huang said she personally likes coffee shops, especially if they are study-friendly. She said  although there are already a number of coffee shops in Berkeley, she typically finds it difficult to find one with available spots.

“Usually, most of the coffee shops on Southside are packed with students studying and working on group projects, and it’s really hard to find a seat,” said campus sophomore Sandra Walle in an email. “This (coffee shop) will give students more options to choose from and more space to interact with one another.”

Campus freshman Priyanka Iype agrees with other students about how new coffee shops in Berkeley are beneficial for students.

“There is no such thing as too many cafés,” Iype said.

Contact Ishira Shrivatsa at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @i_shrivatsa.