If you live around Telegraph Avenue, or frequent the neighborhood, you may already know Chuck Steadham. Invariably outfitted in a V-neck tee, American Apparel hoodie, and Yankees cap, he can be found most nights sitting in the doorway of Manny's Tap Room (2438 Telegraph Ave., 510-848-8652, MannysTapRoom.com), where he's the bouncer. Chuck moved to the East Bay two years ago to attend film school; before that he did stints in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Charleston, so he has some cred when he says Telegraph is like nowhere else.
"It's one of those places I've literally seen — and/or been a part of — most anything," he said. "You could see someone get robbed, you could see someone having sex, and everything in between."
Checking the ID of every person who walks through Manny's door means that Chuck almost doubles as a concierge for Telegraph Avenue. He greets the regulars by name and gives the out-of-towners advice. "People will ask things like, 'Where are the girls?' Or, 'Where can I get a steak?'" he said. (His answers? Manny's or Kip's to the former; Henry's Gastropub in the Hotel Durant to the latter.)
Spending so much time in the neighborhood, he's developed pretty strong opinions on the great Telegraph debates, like Amoeba or Rasputin? Blondies or Fat Slice? For record stores, he prefers Amoeba Music (2455 Telegraph Ave., 510-549-1125, Amoeba.com) — "They have more hard-to-find and classic DVDs." And regarding pizza joints, he weighs in, "Fat Slice, definitely. Tastes better, although it's only good in moderation."
He works at a bar, so it might be natural that in his down time Steadman seeks out nonalcoholic libations. His favorites in the neighborhood are the Jasmine green tea "with no milk and no ice and pearls" from Sweethearts Cafe & Tea (2523 Durant Ave., 510-540-0707), the coconut-milk tea from Moccacino (2252 Bancroft Way, 510-665-1888), and, he says, "The hot chocolate from Milano (2522 Bancroft Way, 510-644-3100) is to die for."
Tea aside, his favorite things to do in the neighborhood is to hit up one of the many "great classic films" screened at Pacific Film Archive (2575 Bancroft Way, 510-642-1124, BAMPFA.berkeley.edu), or at Flashback Films on Thursday nights at the United Artists Theater (2274 Shattuck Ave., 510-486-1852). Tea and old movies — not what you'd expect when this gruff fellow stamps your hand at Manny's.