CLUB REVIEW : OC LIVE! : Net, Nosh Connect at Al Cappuccino


Can't decide what you're in the mood for tonight? Try Fullerton's Al Cappuccino Coffee House, which triples as a homey spot for java lovers, a launch pad for cyber-surfers and an Italian piazza featuring live music under the stars.

For fresh-ground hounds, there's the usual assortment of frothy gourmet coffee drinks plus candy-colored fruit smoothies, sandwiches, low-fat scones, bagels and luscious pastries. Tiramisu! Yum.

The decor is ersatz bohemia, so read the day's news or a worn paperback on a couch (with its inner springs intact) or contemplate the G-rated, black-and-white landscape photographs and shiny cappuccino machines for sale.

To get wired without caffeine, surf the Internet at one of three computers. The other evening, users gazed at data about country dancing, a list of other Net-ready coffeehouses around the world, and colorful, quickly downloaded maps and photographs of Lebanon.

Newbie Don Lee, 20, entered a chat room for real-time repartee with folks with names like Loveable (their conversation was as clean as Al Cappuccino's counters and polite as its patrons and servers) and others with mutual interests. A woman named Melissa, Lee discovered, likes Tori Amos too.

"That is so cool," Lee, a Fullerton College student, typed into cyberspace. "I'm just learning how to play some of her songs on the piano."

If unplugged entertainment is your preference, wander outside. Weather permitting, musicians play nightly to relaxed groups gathered in a pleasant, secluded courtyard large enough to accommodate at least two-dozen listeners.

The alfresco setting actually is an alcove tucked behind a Ruby's Diner within Fullerton Marketplace, a mini-mall on busy Harbor Boulevard. But palm trees festooned with little white lights, and a fountain bubbling nearby, help to create the deliciously relaxed, neighborly feel of a quaint European public square, where the locals stay up late to enjoy life, even on work nights.

The semi-acoustic musical menu, also typical coffeehouse fare, includes pop, jazz, blues, country and rock. Singer-guitarist Brendan Beach, a regular, covers classics by the Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. "Free Bird" lives on, even among the mini-malls.



* 1327 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton.

* (714) 870-7588.

* Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fridays till midnight; Saturdays, 8 a.m. to midnight; Sundays, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

* No cover. Cappuccino, espresso and other coffee drinks range from $1.25 to $3; fresh juices and fruit smoothies go from $1.75 to $3.50. Sandwiches, including tuna, turkey and chicken, are $4.50 to $5. Cost to browse the Internet: $3 per half hour or $4 per hour from opening until 6 p.m.; $4 per half hour or $6 per hour from 6 till closing.



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