Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Portland-based coffee chain, will tentatively open in a 1,700 square-foot space on York Boulevard and Munson Avenue in this summer. According to the firm responsible for the development, Industry Partners, the storefront will be adjacent to a former auto repair and body shop that will also be transformed into a large commercial complex and leased to five other businesses, each unit with a dedicated outdoor area. Industry Partners broker Aram Pogosian said that he is still looking for businesses to occupy these five spaces. Pogosian added that he wants to lease the units to interesting restaurants and services that can help serve the Highland Park and Eagle Rock communities.
“We’re saying ‘no’ to a lot of businesses that are not really additive to what’s happening. We want to do something that’s not only for the community that’s moving in, but for the community that’s always been there,” Pogosian said.
According to Pogosian, Industry Partners rejected applications from many corporate flagships that have locations all throughout the country for the 4701 York Blvd. space. He said that even though Stumptown has a corporate ownership structure, it only has one other LA location in the Arts District and has helped bring the district to where it is now.
“There’s a lot of coffee shops around the city. Period. There’s a lot of coffee shops on every major street, not only York,” Pogosian said. “I think that there is a true demand for coffee shops throughout the city, and everyone has their own favorite coffee shop they go to.”
Pogosian said that he grew up in Northeast LA and has seen a lot of change up and down York Boulevard. He is optimistic that Stumptown is going to create many jobs and attract many tenants to Highland Park and Eagle Rock that otherwise would not have looked at the area as a prime retail spot. Pogosian said that with this connection to the area, he wants to see Stumptown succeed, and so do the locals.
“A dollar spent at a coffee shop is a dollar spent in the community,” Pogosian said. “When someone comes in, spends a lot of money and takes something that was once abandoned, like an old auto body shop, so people can appreciate it, I think that’s a good thing.”
Nicolette Ray, a community member, was raised in Indiana and has lived in Pasadena, right on the Eagle Rock border, for five years. She said that she frequents Eagle Rock and Highland Park coffee shops because she wants to support local businesses while also enjoying a good cup of coffee.
“Highland Park and Eagle Rock have a lot of commercially owned places, but there’s still a lot of locally owned businesses, and it will continue to be like that because there will always be neighbors that want to support neighbors,” Ray said.
According to Ray, in today’s world, people want to know where their money is going. To her, coffee shops are more about creating relationships than just making a transaction.
“You have a relationship with the baristas, [the] owner of the place, but also the neighbors that go in there. You can connect with local artists and other businesses,” Ray said. “It’s also the environment of the relationship. When you go and get a cup of coffee, you’re not necessarily in this busy world. You can get a familiar, home-like feeling.”
She also said that she hopes that Stumptown acknowledges and adheres to the tightknit community that Eagle Rock and Highland Park foster.
“Coffee is a special thing to those who appreciate it,” Ray said. “Ideally, the coffee shop appreciates the community and gives back to it as well.”
Johnny Richardson is the owner of à bloc, a cycling-themed coffee shop on York Boulevard. According to Richardson, he started the shop about two years ago to serve as a big, open community space where people could get together and enjoy some good coffee and food.
“People need coffee every morning. That’s a fact, so we offer the different homemade food and whatnot. That definitely sets us apart. And with the cycling theme, it’s also a destination for that sect. We have things that are definitely different about us,” Richardson said.
Richardson said that he’s all right with new coffee shops opening in the area because it was once his dream to open his own business, after having been in the restaurant industry since he was 15 years old.
“Maybe [the opening of Stumptown] will lead to more people coming down to this area from other neighborhoods to discover more businesses that they never would have found otherwise. But only because they’ve heard of Stumptown,” Richardson said.