February 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
Rows of free-standing bookcases march across an expansive floor covered in the original tiny ceramic squares. Redwood-sized columns support a two-story height with a mezzanine level running along three of the walls. CDs and bins of vinyl LPs occupy an alcove that’s the size of many downtown shops.
And then there’s the book-themed artwork. Books and sheet music fly into the air, support the check-out counter, create an arch along one wall.
Have I mentioned the superabundance of comfy chairs and couches? The many readings, panels, events? The open mic every Monday @ 8 p.m.? And finally, as if gilding the lily, ensconced on the mezzanine is a yarn emporium while a coffee bar occupies a corner of the main floor.
February 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
It’s no mystery what used to be in this empty lot on Rowena: Blackburn Lodge—a down-at-the-heels board & care facility—a couple small cottages, a showroom with ever-changing tenants, and a neighborhood restaurant called The Coffee Table
Food at the Coffee Table was good enough that you’d take out-of-town friends there for weekend brunch and prices were reasonable. (Plus it was one of the first places around to have a vegan entree of scrambled tofu). They also sold The New York Times.
Seating was plentiful: a smoking section out front, large roofed patio in the back, and, in between, tables surfaced with colorful mosaic tiles.
All sorts of folks turned up at the Coffee Table: moms met other moms for coffee while their kids slept in strollers, community groups gathered for committee meetings, writers bogarted the tables near the windows, employees from local businesses came in for lunch.
Then, abruptly last year, our Peaceable Kingdom was upended: The landlord gave the Coffee Table one week to close up shop. Staff who had worked there for years were suddenly unemployed. Everyone was stunned.
We could have seen it coming. Years ago, developers bought the building and land under it intending to build condos. Blackburn Lodge shut its doors, but the other businesses held on while the new owners went through the permitting process. Neighborhood push-back forced the developers to integrate the Coffee Table into the project and to decrease the number of units being built.
Then the Great Recession hit and/or the developers got fed up with city and neighborhood demands, the project stalled and eventually the property was resold. The Coffee Table lived on, using portions of the Blackburn Lodge property for parking.
But, invisible to us, deals were in the works. New owners appeared, shut everything down, razed the buildings, and put up a chain-link fence. Rumor was that condos were in play again. That was at least a year ago.
I believe the property has changed hands again–or maybe I’m thinking of yet another sale during the Great Reprieve. In any case, nothing has been built–not even a building permit posted–and the lot remains empty save for castor plants.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
February 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
Remember when giving human names to business enterprises was in vogue? There was, for example, Ted (United Airline’s brand that attempted to compete with low-cost regional carriers) and George (the glossy monthly co-founded by JFK Jr.).
The commonality of these efforts, besides the attempt to anthropomorphize decidedly unanthropomorphic entities, was how short-lived they were. Five or six years and they were history.
Except here in Silverlake where we still have a building named roger (yes, small R).
Some things last. The Slinky. Rock ‘n’ roll. Patriarchy. The Koran. Others do not: Nehru jackets, pet rocks, the Pennsylvania Railroad. And male names for businesses.