Standing inside Golden Pin Donuts on a Tuesday morning, Barbara Wolf recalls her old habit of popping into the shop to buy treats for her daughter's friends at day care. They were doughnut holes, she remembers -- fresh, fluffy, and perfectly sized for little hands. That was 25 years ago. Today she has stopped by Golden Pin to bid the Park Street mainstay farewell.
After 26 years of seven-day weeks and early mornings baking fresh apple fritters and twists, owner Rahim Seyedein is closing the coffee shop in order to spend more time with his wife and two children. Golden Pin will serve its last cappuccinos on Saturday, but not before almost three decades' worth of customers visit Seyedein to wish him well.
"We have a granddaughter we brought in here as a toddler," said Lou Baca, pointing to a post his family used as a kind of measuring stick to keep track of the girl's growth over the years. "She'll be 20 in September." Baca said Seyedein had become as close as family through the decades. "When we had birthday parties, his daughter would come over," he explained. "He's the draw here. He's very good at what he does." Rachel Lowe, who with her husband Richard Lowe has been a Golden Pin customer for 13 years, agrees. "We're going to miss our coffee," she said. "But we enjoy his friendship." When Seyedein began rolling out doughnuts and pouring coffee 26 years ago, Park Street was a very different place. "When I came here it was kind of a dead street," he said. "Still, business was good for me." For a time, all the schools in Alameda were serving his doughnuts; he has supplied refreshments to local church events for as long as he has been in business. In 1985, Golden Pin even introduced espresso drinks to a street now crowded with coffee shops.
"Most people had no idea what espresso was," Seyedein remembered.
Seyedein came to the United States from Iran in 1978; while working on a master's degree in international economics at the University of San Francisco, he took a job at Berkeley's Dream Fluff Donuts and became interested in opening his own business in the industry after graduation. "Coffee was my main thing," he explained. Since then, the quality of his coffee and service has attracted a loyal group of customers -- including some who are such regulars that Seyedein allows them to duck behind the counter and ring themselves up.
"We love it," said Jim McGrogan, who has been meeting a group of friends at Golden Pin once a month for years. "We're sad that they're shutting it down." Several regulars have planned a small celebration at the shop for the morning before Golden Pin closes for good, Seyedein said. Though they may want to thank him, however, Seyedein says the gratitude is all his.
"I just want to thank the whole community," he said.