Inside the landmark El Dorado Hotel is the El Dorado Kitchen and adjacent to that is the coffee house “Kitchenette.” Somehow, the metonym for these three enterprises has become the affectionate abbreviation “EDK,” a location that has blossomed over the past year into the de facto office for a dozens of Sonoma entrepreneurs.
This genus of “knowledge workers” with speciation as media mavens, social media marketers and consultants of every stripe, use the comfortable couches and free wireless to run their empires, meet clients and otherwise dominate the world. Or at least Sonoma, or specifically the immediate three feet of Sonoma they occupy in any moment. I applaud EDK, its owners and management, for enduring this daily siege upon their real estate, for this is one place where our local economy is quite evidently rebuilding itself, click by click, refill by refill. EDK’s initials should stand for “Entrepreneurs Doing Krap,” an accurate if indelicate (and misspelled) description of a particular Sonoma experience of which I’m proudly a participant.
EDK’s general manager Jens Hoj has actively fostered this community, each member of which is an almanac of Sonoma Valley tourism notions and available as a resource to the hotel’s out-of-town guests, who sometimes mix and mingle and as often network and jive with the hive, make deals, prolong their stay. I’ve personally up-sold a few visitors into lunching at the restaurant and have successfully invited myself to several such impromptu dining excursions. In these instances, I waive my consulting fee, of course. Finding suitable workspace has been something of a career-long issue for me. When I first went pro at the Petaluma Argus-Courier over a dozen years ago, I bristled at the notion of regularly turning up to the “lifestyle desk” having honed my chops in the sturm und drang of pre-Starbucks-era cafes. I was eventually inspired to negotiate a work-at-home situation when my chum Aristotle Smith showed up at my apartment one morning with a bottle of Veuve Clicqout and kindly explained how I was not going to the office that day.
Since then, I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with offices. And Veuve Clicqout. When I was a stringer for the San Francisco Chronicle, not only had I never visited the newsroom, I never met my editor – our business was conducted entirely through email. Ditto the Bohemian, for whom I briefly wrote a column about local news while living in Los Angeles (gotta love the Internet). And there, amid the smog and tears, my first movie biz deals landed my partner and me desk-space in the copy room of a studio subsidiary. An appreciable up-tick in traffic followed as people came by to watch the monkeys type.
Eventually, he and I went AWOL and began squatting uninhabited cubbies on the lot. This became the inspiration for a project about two wannabes who sneak off a tourist tram and live in the sets of a major Hollywood studio while trying to score a deal – the very deal we briefly had until a three-month development freeze found me on an extended wine country sojourn. Apparently, the deal is still frozen seeing as, four-and- half-years later, I’m still happily here waiting for the thaw.
For a few years, I manned a desk I poached from a colleague’s departure at a local media gig but was canned with a baby on the way, which necessitated starting my own micro-mogul venture in a matter of weeks (I’ll remain forever-grateful to the I-T for bringing this column in from the cold). The first thing I did? I sublet some office space.
Now, I ask myself “Why would I do such a dimwitted thing?” I never go there. Nor do my officemates. This week, there was a moment when we all realized that none of us were at the office but were rather huddled around laptops or chatting with our respective clients in various corners of EDK. We decided to move permanently to the lobby. Jens approved. So, now I’m back working in cafes. Home, sweet home. I’ll toast the move with some Veuve.