The End of an Era: The Affogato Cafe (Home to The Baristas) Is Closed for Good

The empty Affogato Cafe in Pittsburgh

And that’s the end of that…

Remember how the Affogato cafe, where we film The Baristas, was sold last August?  And how we filmed all around the renovations the new owners were making to the space?

Well, for business reasons that have nothing to do with us, it turns out that the cafe won’t be staying open after all.  Instead, it’s being shut down entirely — and it’s already empty.

That photo above is what Affogato looks like today, without any fixtures, seats, bookshelves (which have been gone for months), or its fabled round table coffee bar (which [spoiler alert!] was actually a repurposed Dockers’ promotional display).

Yes, gone are all the secrets — and the memories — of Affogato, just like that.

Considering we’ve been filming there since 2006 (back before The Baristas, when we were producing its precursor, Something to Be Desired), it’s a sad day for us.  Affogato was more than just a location to us; it was a neighborhood hangout that we’d come to think of as our second home.  (And not just because we spent more time there than some of the actual employees.)

And what about the future of The Baristas?

Good question…

Thematically, continuing the show is always a possibility.  With Dierdre, Sam and Madison all having either quit or been fired from Affogato during our first season, we could easily follow one (or all) of them to a new cafe… or Glenn, if he decides he can’t be a regular customer anymore under the joyless Lorraine regime.

However, production-wise, continuing the show would be a little more difficult.  Not only would we need to find a new cafe, but it would need to be a cafe that doesn’t mind us treating it like a second home.  We’d built a relationship with Affogato over the course of 5 years, and that kind of trust can’t be instantly created in a new location.

But no matter what might happen next, it’s now unavoidably true that The Baristas — and, in reality, the Bellevue neighborhood of Pittsburgh where Affogato once stood — will never be the same.

Just for fun, here are five of our favorite episodes of Something to Be Desired that we ever filmed in Affogato.  From iJustine to Halloween, that cafe has seen it all…

STBD Season 4 Halloween Special — in which zombies overrun Pittsburgh, and Dierdre (Lacey Fleming) leaves her hapless coworker Tim (Ryan Ben) to fend for himself in the cafe while she heads to a Halloween party that’s gone horribly, blood-spillingly wrong…

STBD 4-17: “Rabbit” — in which Rich (Erik Schark) shares an old family superstition, and we glimpse the ever-eavesdropping Glenn (Rick Hertzig) for the very first time.

STBD 4-28: “Tim Takes a Stand” — in which Tim must defend his girlfriend Veronica (Justine Ezarik) from the lusty advances of guest-starring musician Matthew Ebel.

STBD 5-4: “Creative or Desperate?” — one of many altercations between Dierdre and her morally bankrupt co-barista, Brent (Josh Hansen).

STBD 6-7: “The Red Scare” — in which Brent hopes to get laid for the first time, Sam (Shaun Starke) and Astrid (Laura Lee Brautigam) might never have sex again, and Amy (Heather Beschizza) is pretty sure she and Glenn are never going to get out of here…

So long, Big Red A, and thanks for all the memories.


Attack of the Video Capture Gremlins?

Double uh-oh…

It seems that Affogato’s ongoing renovations aren’t the only production hurdle we have to clear this week.  Now we have a new problem: gremlins in our video system.

Somehow, our footage for this week’s episode has a problem: it’s missing something.  Like, half of every clip.  Without getting too technical, check out this pic:

This is what a folder of Baristas clips looks like in Final Cut. See all those numbers under the clip names? Those are the lengths of each video clip. We usually film each scene in multiple takes that last several minutes apiece, and then we cut in for closeups. But these clips aren’t a few minutes long; they’re a few seconds long. And what’s missing is a few seconds between each clip, which means the footage is a patchwork quilt of half-finished sentences.

That’s never happened to us before, and we’re investigating our video capture process to see where it went wrong (and to make sure it won’t happen again — otherwise, we have a real problem on our hands…).

So while we try to find the gremlins in our system — and re-digitize and re-edit this week’s episode from scratch (oh boy…) — here’s a deleted scene from our Customer Is Always Right episode to pass the time.

Holy Renovations, Coffee Lovers!

Uh oh.

Two weeks in a row when we’re going to post an episode on a Tuesday instead of a Monday?  Is it the end of the caffeinated world? How did that happen?

Simply put, anyone familiar with the Pittsburgh tech scene shouldn’t be surprised that this week’s episode is slightly delayed, because this weekend was the weekend of PodCamp Pittsburgh 6, when time stops for the city’s social media practitioners.  (Or speeds up.  I forget.  We all usually end up sleep-deprived and talking about “the future” at 3 AM…)

But there’s another reason behind our slight hiccup this week, and it’s a doozy: see these pictures? This is what Affogato (where we film the show) actually looks like right now.  Which, if you watch The Baristas, is not what the cafe looks like onscreen.

That’s because the cafe is under new ownership, and renovations are afoot.  This is very cool in the long run, but very interesting from a continuity standpoint.

So, our apologies, but please pardon us while we try to wrap our heads around how we’re going to match our shots from our last 3 episodes before the cafe totally transforms into… well, you’ll see.

And then, tomorrow, watch Rich, Chase and Lorraine to really start causing problems around the cafe…

Interview: The Baristas Creator Justin Kownacki Shares Web Video How-To Tips

Ever wonder why we decided to create The Baristas in the first place?

In part 1 of this new 2-part interview on Web Video Chefs, Amani Channel interviews me (Justin Kownacki) about how and why I launched Something to Be Desired back in 2003, which was spun off as The Baristas in 2010. Could be useful for anyone who wants to start their own web video empire… er, show.

Look for Part 2 soon, in which I share some practical tips on how to get start creating serialized web video without going totally insane.