On a chilly Halloween morning, I approached the new Internet Cafe 2 in Oak Cliff to find the spookiest pumpkin ever sitting on the front steps. Decorated simply in splashes of paint and black marker, it sent shivers down my spine with just three words: "BUT HER EMAILS."
If you're wondering what kind of vibes to expect at this new coffee shop — a project from Megan Wilkes, co-founder of Emporium Pies, and her husband, Paul Wilkes, former owner of Glass Optical — that pumpkin will give you a good idea. This 300-square-foot cafe may be tiny, but it's packed with sarcasm and snark — and despite the fact that it's only been open a week, people seem to have pretty strong feelings about that. When the Observer first posted about the cafe on Facebook, the social media masses had a lot to say.
"I didn't think my eyes could roll that far back. I was wrong."
"Oak Cliff is being taken over by Hispster [sic] vegans....smh." (Note: Internet Cafe 2 is not vegan.)
"OakClifflandia. Taquerias and used tire stores are looking better all the time."
The joke isn't lost on everybody, though — and the joke is a big part of Internet Cafe 2's style. When you walk in, the few tables in the restaurant are marked as reserved (they're not), and to join the cafe's rewards program, you'll have to type your info into a Word doc on an old PC. The tip jar, made of old floppy disks (you'll find them everywhere) reads "MUELLER'S INVESTIGATION FUND." The restroom is equal parts bathroom and phone booth, with a working landline phone and stickers next to it that read, "I made a call from the loo at Internet Cafe 2." To advertise the cafe's opening, owners posted a listing on Craiglist's Missed Connections.
Megan Wilkes describes Internet Cafe 2 (there is no Internet Cafe 1) as "part art piece, part performance art and part coffee shop," and that's pretty accurate. The cafe is filled with jocular local art and will host "light programming" such as "beat poetry night, where we encourage local business owners to come read their one-star Yelp reviews with like a bongo drum accompaniment," Megan Wilkes says.
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Jokes aside, there is real food and coffee at this quirky cafe. Expect classic espresso-based drinks and, eventually, snow cones and Pop Tart-like pastries Megan calls "sugar rectangles." Right now, you can grab a cappuccino and some tiny boxes of classic American cereals.
The cafe will host a grand opening party from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 3 with, according to a flyer, "tacos," "beer" and "art," all in characteristically cheeky quotation marks.
Whether or not you're in on the joke, it's a smartly designed little coffee shop and a fun spot to grab a quick latte on the way to work — and yes, should you find yourself in need, there are plenty of internets to spare.
Internet Cafe 2, 1333 Plowman Ave. Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.