Saturday, March 13, 2010

15th. Avenue Coffee and Tea - an unsolicited comment

Dear H.S.,

I visited your pet project "15th. Avenue Coffee and Tea" today. While I enjoyed the experience, I have to admit... I felt a little lost. You've trained me so well that I didn't know how to order... could I call it a "Caramel Macchiato"? Should I ask for a "grande" or a "medium"?

I went with "Macchiato with Caramel and White Chocolate" (what? No white chocolate?) And I asked for a medium. And what's with no coffee cake? I thought it was a coffee shop.

After the initial confusion, everything was swell. But since this is supposed to a trial of something different, I would like to make the following notes.

(1) I would add some more local flavor. I used to regularly go to the big green coffee chain on West Foothill in Monrovia and the one on Fair Oaks in Pasadena and they always had pictures on the walls drawn by local school children or flyers for upcoming events in the area. I loved how it felt integrated into the neighborhood. (Much like the "pooch of the month" out from of 15ACAT next to the water dishes. But bring that inside.)

(2) I'd lose the "inspired by" tagline. It reeks of misplaced vanity. If you're trying to do something new, don't put it in the shadow of its bigger sibling.

(3) How about a little shelf of take-and-leave books? I think I saw board games and there was a dad and son playing with the Legos on the table behind me, but what about books? (I didn't see any from where I was sitting. Sorry if there was some.)

(4) I know you're going for homey and I loved the massive tables. But if the tables are away from the walls and the power plugs are along the walls, you're going to see people creating trip-hazards with their laptop power cables. Maybe you could hide them in the table (a raised wooden box that flowers can sit on?) or underneath by the table legs or something

But otherwise, I enjoyed the experience. The music was great, it was really laid back. It was dark and it wasn't slick. It was fun, it was casual. The food, good. The other customers all friendly. It was the kind of thing I remembered from the lazy Sunday afternoons in Encino where I'd get a pastry on a glass plate and a coffee in a glass mug from the mermaid and sit outside with my feet up on the edge of the fountain reading Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Just a very pleasant and peaceful experience.

15ACAT was the first stop on my Daddy/Daughter Day with my five-year-old. And we have to drive for 45 minutes to get there. When she first found out we weren't going to Starbucks, she was sad. She kept bringing it up during the drive, in a whisper. But as we were leaving 15ACAT, she asked if we could come back next weekend. (Later in the day we went to Pike Place and I showed her the brown store, the historical roots of the big chain and she excitedly told her mom when we got home that she'd gotten to see the first one.)

While it won't be next weekend, we will be back.

James in Federal Way