Café El Patio is a casual community-based café founded by Allan Coello, located in East Oakland. Allan was born in Oakland, raised in Hayward, and his family has lived in Oakland for over 30 years. Café El Patio serves single origin coffee that comes directly from a family member’s farm in Honduras. In addition to coffee, they serve espresso drinks, sandwiches, pastries, soup, and other specialty dishes. The café features a large outdoors seating area. “With its trees and wooden floors, it feels like someone’s patio,” Allan said.
Café El Patio is an ideal location for people from all walks of life to work, hang out, and come together. “Customers often describe it as nice, quiet, comfortable, and relaxing,’” Allan said. “It’s a good environment to meet people and discuss issues going on right now.” Allan lived in Tokyo for a year, and this influenced his vision for the café. “I was inspired by Japanese cafes and how fresh the coffee is,” he said. Eventually, Allan hopes to open a small roaster inside the café.
After two years of searching for a job while driving for Uber and other contract jobs, Allan decided that he wanted to create a business to serve the community and create jobs. At that point he had three years of kitchen experience under his belt.
Allan began working on the concept for the café in 2015, creating the business plan between 2015 and 2016, finishing the permitting process in late 2016, and opening officially in November of 2017. He did everything himself, from the planning, to the licensing, to seeking out a lender.
Allan tried to go to Wells Fargo for capital, but it did not work out. “My experience with Main Street Launch was fantastic. I worked with Karla [De Leon, Senior Vice President], who was very professional, patient, and made the process stress-free,” he said. Allan used the loan he received from Main Street Launch as working capital, inventory, rent, and payroll.
“The most challenging aspect of opening the business was the permitting process because of the unique location. Since the space was in a mini mall, I had to get special zoning approved to serve food in a retail zone. I went through four or five designs before I got approval,” Allan said. When asked to give advice to future entrepreneurs, Allan said, “Research, do your homework, and be patient. In reality it is difficult, but don’t be afraid to seek out help when needed.”
You can check out Café El Patio online by clicking here, and drop by for a relaxing lunch and a great cup of coffee.