Friday, January 18, 2013

Eclipse Phase

Back in 2007 my wife and I were on a walk around our neighborhood in North Park, San Diego, when we saw that a new coffee shop had opened a block from our house. It was the Free WiFi sign that first caught my attention. I remember peeking through the window and seeing the hand-made wood tables and flowing wall designs. Megan and I were both going back to school for new careers and I'd just made a decision to write my first novel. A cafe next to the house would be a perfect place to escape the distractions of our apartment (I own a lot of toys). What sealed the deal was that Eclipse wasn't just a cafe, it was a chocolate shop.

Will interviewed in
San Diego Magazine
I spent the next few days at Eclipse from open to close, sampling the wares and getting to know the owner, Will Gustwiller--an eclectic soul with a generous smile and room-filling laugh. The rich drinking chocolates, truffles, specialty wines and beers, artisan cheese plate (with dried fruit and burnt-chili caramel dipping sauce), and, of course, chocolate bars were the best I'd ever experienced. Will and I became fast friends and soon Eclipse Chocolat was the social center for our friends. Game nights, happy hours, specialty dinners, and the weekly Eclipse Writers' Group became trusted parts of our lives.

It's six years later and Eclipse in North Park is closing. Not for financial difficulties (they weathered the recession quite well), but to expand into a beautiful location in South Park. It should be a time for celebration, and it is--the new location is massive and will include a full restaurant, bar (with caramel, chocolate and vanilla based beers), cafe and more. Still, I'm sad.

I'm sitting in my old spot, the one that saw me through years of nursing school, a burgeoning romance (my wife and I were still dating at the time) and the emotional ups and downs of learning to write a novel.

Photo from This Tasty Life blog for foodies
I miss this spot.

Even though Megs and I live across town now, I make the pilgrimage here from time to time. I can't live without the chocolate--nothing compares--but sitting in this chair, at this table, puts my mind into the mood to work. No, not work, to experience. I went through so much living here. It's like an extension of my living room, where my friends are always around and accomplishments are made, all while feeding my soul with comfort food I never knew I was missing.


  1. I'll never forget the first time I met you there to write. You'd been filling my ears with talk of the best chocolate ever, and you were right! Will made us lunch to test some of his recipes, and I was hooked. Like you, I'm sad to lose my favorite writing/studying spot yet happy for Will.