Cristin Shea Makes Mosely’s Cafe for Regulars

The dockside coffee, breakfast, and lunch spots offers optimal Grand Marina and maritime viewing at a spot locals like.


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Christin Shea says her little spot "has become a popular place for grab-and-go food."

Brian Chan

Cristin Shea is a former corporate worker and current yoga instructor who has pulled all of her talents together for her own waterfront business, Mosely’s Cafe, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the moored boat she lives aboard. She’s thinking ahead about her popular coffee shop.

Tell me about your cafe.

A year ago, I opened Mosley’s Cafe, a coffee, breakfast, and lunch spot that sits at the end of the Grand Marina pier overlooking Coast Guard Island, which is located at the end of Grand Street on the back end of the harbormaster’s building. It’s a place you can get to by land or by boat. With the tucked-away setting, we’ve created an old-school-cafe feeling where people come to visit, form friendships, read, or engage in artistic endeavors. We encourage a no-tech zone and strive to know as many of our customer’s names as possible. We source locally and sustainably as possible by serving Bicycle Coffee from Jack London Square, Semifreddi’s from Bay Farm, and use as many natural and local ingredients as possible with an emphasis on gluten-free foods. Opening Mosley’s Café was a four-year venture for me. I originally thought I would set up a coffee cart in the marina, but when the opportunity to open a 12-seater cafe presented itself, I was totally on board. Our little spot has become a popular place for grab-and-go food, and we’ve recently been selected by UberEats to be a part of their delivery service. Watching the boating traffic, crew teams, and the Parade of Lights from our deck are some of the many perks to enjoy at Mosley’s Cafe.

What prepared you for opening a cafe?

While I was in college in my early 20s, I worked in the restaurant business while studying fashion design and merchandising/marketing in San Francisco. I owned my own seamstress business for several years, which honed my customer-service skills, then found myself in the corporate marketing world after my daughter was born. The combined skills of close relations with clients and a deep understanding of marketing were the perfect combination. I am also a yoga instructor, which has helped keep me centered and calm during the most stressful moments. When I reflect on my journey, it feels like all roads led me to opening Mosley’s Cafe.

How’s business?

This first year of being open has been incredibly successful in many ways. I’ve witnessed a tidal wave of the coolest things happening before my eyes. I’ve met people from all over the world and have had so much fun bringing yummy food to the boating community. Seeing how folks come to Mosley’s Cafe for an experience, not just for coffee or food, is the biggest compliment as that is exactly what I envisioned for my cafe. I also have been truly touched and overwhelmed by how Alamedans have been true to their reputation of being supportive, kind, and incredibly generous. Ninety percent of my customers are regulars, made up of sailors, business owners, young mothers, neighborhood pals, and volunteers from the animal shelter. Our catering, pick-up and delivery service, and seated dining have surpassed what I could have ever imagined. I’m hoping to get a beer and wine license by next summer, which will open new opportunities for the cafe. We are also starting to rent the space out for small parties or lunch meetings in the afternoons. But the feeling I have most about the business is deep gratitude towards those who have helped me along the way, especially my best friend and now co-worker, Carol Lynn Featherstone. We would not be where we are today without her practical knowledge and moral support through every step.

Where did you come up with the name Mosley?

Mosley, my Pitt-Mastiff mix, inspired my idea of the cafe during our many dog walks in the marina. I started noticing people had to drive elsewhere to get their morning coffee, and the seed was planted. He’s been with me every step of the way and really captures the essence of the cafe. He’s playful, fun, full of love, rambunctious, and content just hanging with the locals.

I understand you have a really short commute to work.

Yes, really short. My daughter, Sierra, and I live on a boat here in the marina and have completely fallen in love with the boating community. We can’t believe how alive our home is. She literally breathes with only a thin piece of fiberglass between us and the storms—it is both exciting and therapeutic at the same time. When my daughter is not in school, she works at the cafe. We love not having to get in a car to get to work. Let’s just say that working and living on the water is a really good life. We are so blessed.

Published online on Oct. 20, 2016 at 8:00 a.m.

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