Why a Santa Rosa Cafe Is the Future of the Office Lunch

Would you eat at a bank? Maybe you should

It’s time for a little lunchtime dignity at the office. So long to sad brown paper sacks, desiccated Lean Cuisines warmed up in a dirty microwave, and worst of all, whatever stinky thing you had for dinner last night that’s making us all wretch at our desks. I make it a practice to publicly humiliate anyone with the chutzpah to bring a steaming plate of fish stew, garlic curry or god forbid, tuna salad near my workstation.

That’s why I’m convinced that Redwood Credit Union’s new Grove Cafe is the future of the office lunch.

Simple daily menus are placed near the entrance to the bright, modern space and include dishes like blacked chicken flatbread with sweet corn and red onion ($6), roast cauliflower and pear soup ($3.50), or Korean bbq chicken in lettuce cups ($8) or a grilled veggie sandwich with sun-dried tomato pesto and goat cheese ($6) fresh beet salad with arugula ($6.75), made-to-order sandwiches and burritos (all under $9). There are no servers or waitstaff, instead, diners simply pick a dish or two on the touch screen monitor, pay with a credit card and sit down. Minutes later, your number is called and your order ready for pickup at the counter. No muss, no fuss, no lost time when your lunch hour is ticking by quickly.

Recently built inside the RCU headquarters, (3033 Cleveland Ave, Santa Rosa), anyone is invited to dine at the cafe, though mostly populated by hungry bankers, nearby Empire College students and Superior Court staff. In fact, I was tipped off by my son, who has made it his mission to receive most of his daily sustenance at the cafe while on break from his college classes. It’s that affordable.

While the concept cafe isn’t locally-owned or Michelin-starred (it is part of international foodservice conglomerate Compass Group, which operates cafes and food services for businesses, schools and hospitals including Bon Appetit Management and Wolfgang Puck Catering), the simple idea is efficient, inexpensive and what office drones (myself included) could really use on days when simply putting food in our faces is something of a luxury.

The Grove Cafe: Open Monday – Friday. Breakfast – 8:30 -10:00 a.m, lunch – 11:30 a.m-1:30 p.m., snacks -1:30 – 3:00 p.m..