If I were to imagine my ideal coffee shop it would probably look something like the recent-ish collaboration between Cafecito Orgánico and Tom Shoes. Walking through the doors almost feels like you've come home - like it's time to kick up your feet, put on your comfy pants, snuggle into the corner of the couch and relax. I am not sure how they pulled it off, but bravo to whomever conceptualized and executed the design of this store. It satisfies all the nuances i'd hope to find in a 3rd place.
The current evolution in coffee shops seems to be the espresso bar plus. In this particular instance, you can sip a macchiato while trying on some Tom's kicks - espresso bar plus shoes. In Hollywood you can simultaneously admire latte art and fine art at Project Gallery + Espresso, while Silverlake's Broome Street General Store blends their coffee program with a cozy, sort-of-luxury retail. Even Nicely's eagerly anticipated Venice Beach project called Menotti's is due to be an espresso bar plus bar bar. This trend isn't only taking over Los Angeles, in London last month I met a guy who is working on opening his own coffee concept store this fall - espresso plus barber shop. But I digress…
The reason this Abbot Kinney based collab-o-shop is so great, aside from miraculously making the combination of coffee and feet delicious, is because it puts emphasis on community. There are a multitude of unique areas within the space that are likely to satisfy whatever you are looking for in a coffee shop. The front room has a more traditional cafe feel where you can meet with a client or tend to your important coffice work. The bar area is clean, yet rustic and also doubles as the display room for the Tom's gear including video projections, shelving made of reclaimed wood and an overflowing community bulletin board.
If you feel like being more social, or trying on some shoes, the patio in the back is an awesome hang out spot to bring your friends to, start a conversation with someone or just snuggle in a blanket and people watch. Then there is the 'backyard' section - carpeted with astroturf, bleacher style seating and strings of lights - an even more casual zone to indulge in your cappuccino. It's kind of like living breathing art.
All this sans the pressure of feeling like you need to shop to earn your seat. It's a revolutionary retail experience. Spending time in this place is kind of like hanging in your best friend's backyard. To make things better, if you happen to be like me and have a mutt with minor separation anxiety issues, you'll be happy to know that dogs are more than welcome to mix and mingle inside and out.
Of course a big selling point of Tom's shoes is community given their one-for-one model so it's really no surprise that their flagship store would reflect those values. Teaming up with Cafecito Organico was a no brainer. Cafecito's penchant for sustainability - see: organic coffee, organic milk, eco friendly to-go options - plays beautifully into Tom's earth conscious marketing strategy. They also offer events like coffee tastings, wine tastings, yoga classes, story time for kids and evening runs through the neighborhood. I recently attended a free craft night hosted by the lovely Creme de la Craft where we learned how to make necklaces and earrings while sipping on wine. I'm telling you, this place is too good to be true.
Lest we not forget why we are there in the first place - their locally roasted coffee is solid and enhanced immeasurably by the environment in which it is enjoyed.
Visit Tom's Flagship Store: 1344 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, Ca. 90291