It’s the mystery of the ages, or at least the one on the minds of Petaluma residents who need a little more zip in the zip code and prefer their mail with a macchiato.

Why hasn’t the coffee cart at the Petaluma Mail Depot opened for business?

After months of building at the 4th and C street location – including a shed structure and the cart in question – there seems to finally be an answer.

“Tomorrow I get my inspection and once I get my inspection, I’m ready to open,” says Peter Markey, who is awaiting an inspection from the Sonoma County Health Department. But that’s not the whole story…

Presumably, the results of the health department’s inspection will be posted online on its Food Facility Inspection Results page. Naturally, this is where one can have hours of gross-out fun entering various restaurants to see how their inspections fared. One nearby cafe was cited because “Not enough sanitizer was in the final rinse solution in the three comp sink,” whatever that means. A few blocks away, a bistro received the ominous notice that “a knife was in the back handwash sink,” which sounds like something Benedict Cumberbatch might sniff whilst Sherlocking.

Old School Petaluma Cafe Scene

Those from the old school Petaluma scene will remember Markey for his eponymous eatery on Western Avenue (present site of the Tea Room), which was a mainstay of local diets and the social scene through the 80s and early 90s. Markey later opened a second location in Cotati that is now the Redwood Cafe and owned by Michael and Leslie McCullaugh who, with John Crowley, are also partners in the Aqus Cafe. Markey’s Espresso Cart, the restaurateur’s latest Petaluma venture has been incubating for nearly a year.

“It’s been a while dealing with the health department. It’s been a challenge because I had to put a two-compartment sink in there. Can you believe that? I could wash you in there,” Markey says of what can only be called the health department’s “sinking feeling.” (For the record, the two-compartment sink is not adequate to bathe this reporter.)

Markey’s new endeavor replaces the much missed Bus Stop Coffee cart which was owned by Nathan and Katie Nies who sold it to another coffee cart entrepreneur last year. The new owner failed to flourish and the enterprise ended with a measure of controversy (to be explored in another post).

“It could be open next week so long as everything goes well with my inspection,” says Markey, who would otherwise just be going postal.

Daedalus Howell is the author of Quantum Deadline, a darkly comic sci-fi crime novel, set in Lumaville. Also, you’ll never believe the strange goings-on at

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