The cafe gallery space known as Farley's East, at 33 Grand Ave., is located in the block between Broadway and Webster Street in a renovated single-story commercial building that highlights Oakland's past and efforts to preserve it.
The building was designed in the 1920s by Will G. Corlett and Walter Reed, two prominent architects with projects throughout the Bay Area. The team's other local landmarks include Chabot School (1926), Safeway Tower on International Boulevard (1927) and the Asian Resource Center (formerly the Hebron Electrical Co.) on Harrison Street (1922).
The original Farley's was operated by Roger Farley Hillyard on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, starting in 1989. Farley's East, which opened in 2009, is operated by his son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Amy Hillyard.
The name "Farley" is a reference to Roger's grandfather, Jack Farley. "There is yet a third Farley's," cafe manager Josh Rosenberg said, "which is located on 65th, near San Pablo Ave."
On the cafe's website is a reference to the "infamous Jack Farley," who "disappeared without a trace in 1921." A photo of this mysterious forebear with a bowler hat and jaunty walking cane is the inspiration for Farley's business logo.
One of the special features of Farley's East is the support the business gives to local nonprofit organizations.
According to Rosenberg, a different group is featured on the second Thursday of each month, and 20 percent of proceeds from 5 to 9 p.m. are donated to that organization. "We offer the groups an opportunity to bring in their supporters and have a party with music, or whatever they decide to have, to generate a crowd," Rosenberg said.
On Friday, Farley's East is hosting the group HandsOn Bay Area, or HOBA.
HOBA strives to connect volunteers to projects and programs in the Bay Area that are working to meet critical community needs in education, health and aging, and homelessness. More than 80 direct-service projects are offered each month, including on weekends and evenings to accommodate busy schedules.
"By joining us on Nov. 14, you can directly support other community nonprofits," Rosenberg said.
The historic block of Corlett and Reed buildings where Farley's East is located was part of a program by Brian Kendall, director of the city's Downtown Facade Improvement Program, which offers up to $20,000 in matching grants for property and/or business owners to remodel and improve the appearance of the exterior of their properties.
"We were able to bring back the distinctive 1920s Mediterranean-style features of the block and thus help the owner attract new tenants like Farley's," Kendall said.
Since the inception of the program in 1999, more than 400 rehabilitations have been completed. Kendall was recently recognized by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for his work in the downtown district.
For more on the facade improvement program, see the city's website, www.oaklandnet.com, which features before and after photos. The Web address for HOBA is www.handsonbayarea.org. Go to www.farleyscoffee.com to learn more about Farley's unique "community in a cup" philosophy.