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New Restaurant ‘Cape 7’ is Settling in on Webster Street

There has been a lot of local chatter about the new restaurant called Cape 7 since it opened on Webster Street about two weeks ago at the former home of Shell Shock Seafood House. Cape 7’s owner, Chi Tai, sat down with the Alameda Post to talk about his vision for the restaurant and how he came to open the eatery.

Alameda Post - Chi Tai sits in a booth at Cape 7
Chi Tai sits in a booth at Cape 7. Photo Kelsey Goeres.

For now at least, Cape 7 still features the same decor that Shell Shock once presented. Larger-than-life plastic sea creatures still hang on the walls and from the ceiling. A kayak is situated above the window booths. A large pirate statue sits stoically next to the service counter. The interior is bright and clean and the air smells lightly of fish and chips.

Tai named his new Alameda spot after the 2008 Taiwanese romantic comedy-drama, Cape No. 7. Written and directed by Wei Te-Sheng, the film takes place in the 1940s near the end of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The story follows a teacher who is dispatched to the town of Hengchun as he falls in love with a local woman. After the surrender of Japan, the teacher is forced to return home. Once back home, he writes seven love letters to the woman he fell in love with. But the love letters, addressed to Cape No. 7, were never delivered. More than 60 years later, a struggling rock band singer happens upon the letters and hopes to deliver them to their rightful owner. The film performed so well it broke box-office records.



Alameda Post - the outside of Cape 7 Cafe
The parking lot right behind the restaurant helps overcome the difficulty of finding parking on Webster. Photo Kelsey Goeres.

An entrepreneur through and through, Tai owned a number of businesses before he opened Cape 7—a gas station, an auto repair shop, a newspaper, and a very popular restaurant called Lavender Hot Pot in Newark. “It served about 400 to 500 people every day,” he told the Post. “People liked it.” But 2020 was very hard for business, to say the least. The restaurant lost a half-million dollars, Tai said, so he sold it on June 1, 2023.

Tai knows the owner of the building where Cape 7 is now located. When Shell Shock closed, he called Tai to see if he wanted to open a restaurant there. Tai said “yes,” and just like that he was back in the restaurant game.

Alameda Post - the interior of the restaurant, still decorated like it was for Shell Shock
The decor in the restaurant will be very familiar to Shell Shock patrons. Photo Kelsey Goeres.

Immediately, Tai saw there was a need for more breakfast spots in Alameda. “Also, American breakfast is easier than Chinese food,” he said. He knows he wants to serve American breakfast food in the morning, but the overall menu is still in flux.

Some locals might have noticed a striking similarity between Cape 7’s original menu and Cafe Jolie’s menu. One of the first chefs Tai hired, who had worked at Cafe Jolie a number of years ago, created that early rendition of Cape 7’s menu around his specialties. Things didn’t work out between that chef and Cape 7.

Tai and his new chefs are working to find the right direction for the menu. The owner wants to “keep prices reasonable” and, in addition to breakfast food, serve American staples like nachos and fish and chips—and maybe even hot pot—for lunch and dinner. Tai’s favorite item Cape 7 serves right now is the steak, which is prepared with a special sauce he created.

Alameda Post - the outdoor seating at Cape 7
A small porch holds a handful of two-seat tables. Photo Kelsey Goeres.

The hours of the restaurant also are in flux at the moment. Tai hopes to serve Alamedans for dinner, but he’s not sure if he can get the patronage he needs to keep the restaurant open in the evenings. “There aren’t many places open late around here,” he said. “But I don’t know if people want a place to eat dinner late.”

So far, business has been good. At the time of the interview, the new restaurant had only been fully open for about 12 days. “Last Saturday, we almost had a full house,” said Tai.

The Cape 7 owner lives in Fremont but he’s trying to move back to Bay Farm Island, where he used to live. “I like living by the ocean,” he said. He feels Webster Street is a great location for Cape 7. “I really like it here,” he said. “There’s good foot traffic and lots going on.”

Alameda Post - booths in the window at Cape 7
Cape 7 is open for business! Photo Kelsey Goeres.

For decades, Tai has enjoyed “working for the community” within the Bay Area. He feels opening a restaurant is another way to serve the community.

“We’re new to Webster,” he said. “I want to find the right menu for the community, and be a spot people like to go.”

Kelsey Goeres is a contributing writer for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Kelsey-Goeres.

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