Memory is an interesting phenomenon. Recollections are quite selective and fleeting, even contradictory. For many of us in Idyllwild, Café Aroma has contributed significantly to our memories over the years and the article about Café Aroma and Hubert Halkin in the last Town Crier triggered my particular memories.
For me, when I was living overseas and enjoying international experiences and cuisine (and good coffee), Uptown Café – pre-Café Aroma – meant finding a different kind of environment that was not easily found in this corner of Riverside County in the late 1980s, early 1990s.
Uptown, an integral piece of a complex interlinking old and new in an idyllic forest setting and thoughtfully designed by Robert Priefer and Dave Lillieholm, was my go-to place when I visited family in the area. It was a place I returned to time and time again, pulling me up the mountain, encouraging me to put down roots in a place I would come to call home for the first time in more than 20 years.
I mourned its closing and rejoiced when it rose again as Café Aroma, thanks to those who saw its value and who gave it new life that evolved into an iconic symbol of Idyllwild as only it could — Mark, Frank and Hubert, and all the servers and employees of whom many of us grew to know and love — Rachel, Erin, Casie and Chenay.
Café Aroma drew people who, enjoying the company of other like souls, resonated to its laid-back, artistic atmosphere. Art and artists, of every kind, were enthusiastically embraced. We met friends and listened to music and poetry while we enjoyed delicious food in an enchanting environment.
For many Idyllwild youth, Café Aroma was their first foray into the world of employment. We saw them grow into adults, into artists. We saw them leave the Hill and return.
Café Aroma has a place in many a heart. I can only hope that it will rise again as it did before.