It’s a Saturday night and upon walking past the normal strips of overcrowded bars, there is a café on the backside of downtown Fullerton that many people have overlooked or may have never seen before. An old fashion black car is parked in front of the café that foretells what the inside is going to be like.
Walking through the doors of Max Bloom’s Café Noir is like stepping back in time. In to the 1940s to be exact.
The place is strewn with books, games, board games, guitars, and other things for people to amuse themselves with while the vintage décor welcomes the customer like a warm hug.
This is the kind of place where a customer can sit on an old mismatched couch and drink a ‘cuppa Joe’ while reading a book, play a board game with friends, or perform on open mic night.
Kevin Carter, owner of the café opened its doors five years ago. It had always been his dream to open a coffee shop that was like the original ones around in the 1940s. It wasn’t difficult for Carter to make Café Noir ooze with 40s decorations; he had owned most of the nostalgic memorabilia before opening the café.
“Specifically, I was going for a mid-century Americana decor,” Carter said. “Since opening customers have donated some of their own memorabilia to the café.”
For Tori Romero, 22, of Buena Park, this is her first time at Café Noir. Her stage name is Tori Larissa and she plays the ukulele and guitar. Her band, Ever in Bloom, which plays alternative folk music messaged her on Facebook about performing at the café.
“I like all of the vintage posters, its very nostalgic,” Romero said.
Carter, does everything from making the coffee to making the food and setting up for the events. At first Café Noir started off as all coffee shops start off –with coffee and café foods, and then Carter started incorporating the event nights. He used to combine comedy night and open mic nights together on Friday night, but then he had to separate them because sometimes the crowds would want to hear more of one than the other.
“In order to accommodate the two crowds I made Friday night strictly comedy night, uncensored, which has become the biggest night at the café.” Carter said.
Carter makes sure he warns new customers that walk in on Friday nights so they can make their own judgment call.
“One of the reasons comedy night has a big following is because no other coffee shop in the area has comedy nights, especially uncensored, and I don’t censor it.” he said.
Monday nights at the café is for anyone who wants to take a vocal styling class taught by Jerry Garvin a Fullerton College music instructor with over 30 years of performing and teaching. The class learns and rehearses a selection of classic tunes as a group. It’s $5 per class and is open to all levels of experience and ages but it is limited to the first 15 people who sign up.
Tuesday nights are movie nights. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s is open mic night, where anyone can cover a song, perform an original, jam, or read poetry from 8-10 p.m. Saturday’s are for live music Carter books however with no restrictions.
“Most of the events are heard of by word of mouth or seen on Facebook,” Romero said.
While grass roots and community effort have made the café so successful, Carter also puts ads on Craigslist to attract new customers and possibly new talent. He books performers way in advance and is booked up until the end of April.
“There are a lot of repeat performers here. I don’t pay them, It’s for exposure only,” Carter said.
Not only are the events appealing for those who want to step off the beaten downtown Fullerton bar path, but the coffee is delicious. This unique and inviting café is a nice place to step back in time and enjoy its flavorful coffee while studying or socialize and partake in any of the events going on that night-especially listening to an alternative folk band.
“I wish more Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton students would come in, it’s a nice place to study with free Wi-Fi,” Carter said. “ The website calendar shows all of our upcoming events.”
Max Bloom’s Café Noir is located at 220 N. Malden Ave, Fullerton Calif.