Summer 2004. I’d just finished grad school, and was living with my folks in St. Charles. I really needed a place to get out of the house and worked on my freelance. And I found it.

Rivalz Technology Cafe, on Dorsett, was a coffeeshop/Internet cafe that was open until 1 am on weeknights and 3 am on weekends. Most of the seating was beatup old comfy couches. The drinks were cheap and the WIFI was plentiful. Word spread like wildfire through St. Louis’ geek community.

I would park myself there most nights with my iBook and a breve. I met one of my best friends in the world there, and we started hanging out on a regular basis. Rivalz became the place that my circle of friends and I would hang out. We’d game, chat, gossip, rehearse plays (our group did a lot of performance art at local goth shows), flirt, and brainstorm. If we had any wild and crazy ideas back in those days, it was a sure bet the genesis occurred at Rivalz.

Another one of my best friends, Jen, can tell similar stories about the coffeeshop Caffiend. I should get her to do a guest post.

The brain and life of Rivalz was the main barista/manager, Sean. Sean was the guy who knew all his regulars and their drinks, and knew how to run a business. Everyone knew him by name. He had the best pastries in the case and picked the best music pump into the cafe. One night after he played a tech remix of Alice Cooper’s “Poison”, I asked him for the name of the song and the artist so I could buy the track online. Sean loaned me the CD on the spot.

Not long after Sean ran off to LA with his girlfriend, Rivalz went downhill. DJs playing loud music, roving hordes of high schoolers descending upon the place, and then in early 2006 Rivalz closed its doors for good. I still don’t know all the details, since I’d also moved (out to San Francisco) by then, but numerous sources indicated that the owner blew all his profits on hookers and blow. Is it true? Who knows?

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