While the huddled masses bustled about to keep warm along the Downtown parade route Thursday evening, there was a whole other kind of frenzy occurring just north on Sacramento Street, where the 80 some-odd floats queued up amidst an assemblage of revving diesel trucks, shouting traffic controllers, rehearsing marching bands and a freaky-big grape harvester.
The lone voice heard above the din belonged to Ms. Cheryl Francis, beckoning the frigid throng with cries of “Homemade tamales, coffee, soup and hot cocoa,” from a perch on the deck of her recently opened Grace and Mercy Café at 425 N. Sacramento St.
Ms. Francis — “Cheryl, Please!” — a born dynamo if there ever was one, warmed the growing crowd not only with her bonhomie but also with the promised and satisfying hot food and beverages once inside. But there was more from the 100-plus folks who relished a brief respite from the cold that evening: “I’ll give you a donation if I may use the bathroom, please ...” and other variations on that theme were heard over and over again that evening. Donations were plentiful. But donation or not, everyone was welcome. For that’s the nature of the Grace and Mercy Café. It’s gratis. As in free.
The cafe is part of Cheryl’s nonprofit Grace and Mercy Charitable Foundation. It has been open for three weeks and currently serves lunch on Monday and Wednesday from 11 am to 1 p.m. There is no charge. Donations are welcomed and appreciated.
The foundation will host a grand opening of the café on Friday, Dec. 13 from 3 to 8 p.m. Along with music, food and refreshments will be served.