Restaurant News & Reviews

New Mondavi Center café named after beloved former mascot — a cat named Walter

A deceased feline friend lives on as the inspiration behind Café Walter, the Mondavi Center’s new quick-service outpost for coffee and light eats that opened Tuesday morning.

Café Walter will be run by the management team behind Sacramento restaurants Capitol Garage and The Porch, director of operations Gia Hellwig said. A cappuccino cup with a paw print drawn in the foam serves as the café’s tentative logo.

Walter started coming by the Mondavi Center in about 2015, according to his Instagram page, and came to be known as the center’s “Chief Executive Cat.” On Sept. 19, 2018, a groundskeeper found the orange-and-white tabby in the university Arboretum in apparent distress. After a trip to the UC Davis Veterinary Center, Walter crossed the rainbow bridge to the litter box in the sky.

Walter’s namesake café opened inside the Mondavi Center on Tuesday with coffee, espresso and tea as well as baked goods prepared at Capitol Garage and The Porch, Hellwig said. Oatmeal, paninis, soups, smoothies, salads and breakfast burritos should all be for sale by the end of the month, she said.

Café Walter will operate out of the Mondavi Center’s main concession stand in Jackson Hall from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students take classes in 1,800-seat Jackson Hall, but don’t have many breakfast options on the campus’ southeast end, Hellwig said.

“There really wasn’t anything on this side of campus,” Hellwig said. “When UC Davis was talking about adding another café, I know they were thinking the Mondavi Center would be the best spot for it. It would give people on this end of campus a food option besides food trucks that are out there.”

UC Davis’ landmark performing arts center opened in 2002 thanks to a $10 million endowment from Napa Valley wine magnates Robert and Margrit Mondavi.

Plans for a downtown Davis café where cats could roam about freely were scrapped in December when the founders reportedly ran out of funding and came up against insurmountable problems with the building.

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