"People were calling us and asking what time happy hour was," Cafe Manager Zel Ayres chuckled. "I guess they figured it was a new bar and grill. That went on for a couple of months. We got a big kick out of it, though.
"We changed the name to CC Cafe to sound a little fancier. It worked better than we expected," she laughed.
The cafe serves healthy and nutritious lunches Monday through Friday, except on holidays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to adults 60 and over at 730 Third St. The cafe requests a donation of $2. The program is a partnership between Contra Costa Health Services and the City of Brentwood Parks and Recreation Department. It is located in the Brentwood Community Center Blue Room. Reservations are required a day in advance.
CC Cafe Manager Zel Ayres serves up nutritious meals weekdays at the Brentwood Community Center Blue Room.
"All meal programs like this one should be in community centers," Ayres said. "It's a real draw. There are lots of activities for seniors. They hold exercise classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday."
Ayres said the cafe serves about 40 seniors each day. "The food is catered and it's very healthy," she explained. "No salt is added and the food is very low in fat."
Ayres added that the meals provide one-third of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults 60 and over. She said that the lunch is also rich in Vitamins A and C and fiber. "Our clients who take the menu to show their doctors say the doctors are very impressed with the diet," Ayres said. "The county has a dietician who creates the menu. We meet every Tuesday to review the menu."
The regulars enjoy both the camaraderie and the menu. "The food is very good and healthy," said Gene Brown, a Brentwood resident who takes advantage of the nutritious offerings daily. "I'm used to peppers and spicy food. Sometimes the food here lacks a little seasoning. But you can't please everybody. I just add a little salt and pepper."
The food is cooked fresh daily and delivered mid-morning. "Everything is carefully portioned," she explained. "That's so everyone will get enough to eat without over-eating, and they will get the required nutrition."
The program is both state and federally funded. Ayres said the cafe also has to follow the same health and safety rules as any commercial restaurant.
In order to satisfy different tastes, the cafe provides options each day. "If you don't like the entree you may substitute a cheeseburger, chef's salad or seafood salad," Ayres said.
Typical entrees are Garlic Ginger Roasted Breast of Chicken, Beef Stroganoff, Home-style Lasagna, Mike's Delicious Down-home Meatloaf and BBQ Pork Rib-Patty. Entrees also come with two or three sides and dessert.
Ayres has been working in the program for 29 years, the past four in Brentwood. She spent 25 years at the Canteen in Antioch. But when Antioch took over the program, she moved to Brentwood.
"I love it here," she said. "For many of the people who come here each day, we're their family. This is more than a place to eat. It's a social center."
Ayres pointed out that seniors today are much more active than in past decades. "They're busy people," she said. "They exercise, travel. They don't think and act old. They're still having fun and living life."
Ayres relies on several volunteers who arrive each day to serve the meals.
"Everyone here is so friendly," she said. "It's such a nurturing environment."
Ayres said that for those who are unable to dine at the CC Cafe, the program also offers Meals on Wheels. "Volunteers come in here and collect the meals and deliver them around town," she said. "Our volunteers are so wonderful."
To make a reservation a day in advance at CC Cafe, call 634-5040. To inquire about the Meals on Wheels program, call 625-4545.