Archive for the ‘Local Businesses’ Category

Neighborhood Bookstore

We learnt from residents posting on Nextdoor that a bookstore opened in our neighborhood, which is exciting news, so we went to check it out.
Sideshow Books, a store of used and rare books that for 11 years was located on Idaho Ave, near the Nuart movie theater, has recently moved to 1639 S La Cienega Blvd just north of Airdrome St.

Sideshow Books

Owner Tony Jacobs told me that their previous place was too small, they had so many books that they needed more space for their large inventory. This new location is spacious and brightly lit by two big skylights. Tony is concerned that many people throw books away now, and they are not being reprinted, so they will disappear. Used bookstores are an essential part of the chain of life for books and they are dying out now because of the price of real estate. His mission is to preserve and promote book culture, the goal directed at younger people is to make books cool again, he hopes customers will come into his store and discover books they didn’t expect to find.

Tony Jacobs, Sideshow Books

It’s not just old books that Tony wishes to preserve, but also the appreciation for classic old movies. He teamed up with film scholar Tom Newth to show a series of Hollywood’s sleepers, like All Through the Night (1942) with Humphrey Bogart, and Italian suspense films (gialli) like Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963).
The movies are projected on the wall from a laptop in the funky back patio of the bookstore on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8.30pm. Call for program: 310-428-4631

If you love books, please support this local bookstore, and visit The Last Bookstore downtown, located at 433 S Spring St, in an amazing building from 1914 that used to be a bank.
Read Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic novel Farenheit 451, about a future totalitarian society where books are outlawed and burnt. Francois Truffaut directed a film version in 1966, it was recently remade into a TV movie for HBO. Look up my article about Ray Bradbury in Cultural Weekly.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Chocolate on Robertson

At the September 27 SORONC Townhall meeting about the Robertson Great Streets plans, I was impressed by the heartfelt speech of a young man, David, who introduced his handcrafted chocolate to the neighbors. They are open to the public on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm, and offer free samples. So yesterday I went to visit their factory, Letterpress Chocolate, at 2835 Robertson, the same storefront where Sue Leedom used to sell her Mollie’s Cookies, next to Fred’s Bakery, recently remodeled by new owner by Avi Kadmon.

David Menkes with a tray of cacao beans

Letterpress is a technique of relief printing from plates. David used to be a graphic artist, and does all the designs for his artisan chocolate packaging. The logo is inspired by an old US airmail stamp. It means that he comes from the mountains, flies all over the world and brings back chocolate beans.
His wife and daughter work at the family business, where they manufacture small batch, bean to bar, chocolate in different flavors, single sourced from small farms in Belize, Tanzania, Trinidad, Ecuador, etc.

David Menkes with wife Corey and their daughter

This reminds me of the Lavazza coffee that I have been drinking since moving to the US in 1972, to make sure that every morning as I wake up I smell and taste the same flavor I am used to, having grown up in Italy. I buy Lavazza at Bay Cities, World Market and Vons. It comes in cans and in 12oz bags in several flavors, plus 2 single origin coffees: Santa Marta, Columbia and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. A couple of years ago I received a Nespresso machine as a birthday gift, but I load refillable pods with Lavazza. To me this Italian coffee beats the taste of the Swiss brand by far.

Stop by to meet David on Saturdays, taste the various samples, ask him to introduce you to his wife and daughter, who are busy in the back making and packaging the award-winning chocolate they ship all over the world. And if you wish to buy some bars of your favorite flavor, they cost $10 to $12 each.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

For more blog posts on Robertson businesses click here

Enjoy South Robertson

Ivan Gallery. Art by Barbara Mendes

Sunday June 4, I walked 3 blocks from my home to South Robertson to experience the SORO Fest, a joyous community event in its 20th year, when this usually busy street between Cadillac and Cattaraugus is closed to traffic and SORO residents enjoy walking to the many restaurants and shops in our neighborhood.

I greeted my friends, at the booths for RVNA, SORONC, Hami Garden, and said hello to Barbara Mendes, who was teaching kids how to do chalk drawing on the sidewalk in from of Ivan Gallery.

Fred’s Bakery-Avi Kadmon.

I spoke with Avi, who bought Fred’s Bakery two years ago and recently completed a thorough remodel. This neighborhood favorite was opened in 1949 by Fred and Harriet; when Fred passed away in 1992, his children (Bob, Steve and Cecilia) ran it for 12 year, then sold it in 2005 when Cecilia (Cissy Klein) moved to Las Vegas.

Wonders Kids World. Julia, Natalie

I looked into the window of Wonders Kids World. They were closed today, but a couple of weeks ago I had met with Natalie, from Paris, France and Julia, from Yucatan, Mexico. They are devoted to teaching pre-school children French and Spanish in a fun way, through music and games.

Barbara Mendes painting Angel Wall. July 2012

You don’t have to wait another year to enjoy South Robertson, now dubbed the Great Emerald Blvd. These businesses are open most days of the week. Go have breakfast at Undergrind Cafe, lunch at Dolce Isola, dessert at Monaco Gelato, take home tasty Argentinian Empanadas or a heavenly green chile burrito from Campos. Check out the many programs the Relational Center has to offer. Enjoy art at the Ivan Gallery, decorated with the colorful and intricate murals painted by Barbara Mendes through the years. Explore all the places that she included in the map below.

For a list of our favorites click on the Robertson page of the RVNA website.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Robertson-Great Street

Tommy's Express Car Wash

Tommy’s Express Car Wash

Many residents were disappointed two years ago when South Robertson Boulevard was NOT included among the 15 “Great Streets” chosen by Mayor Eric Garcetti for transformation.  Last November SORONC (South Robertson Neighborhood Council) leaders applied for a $13,000 matching grant, with letters of support from RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association) and other community organizations, and on February 3, 2017 the Mayor confirmed that South Robertson (from Cadillac to Kincardine) is one of 7 additional Los Angeles Great Streets 2016.

2512 Robertson

2512 Robertson

I took a walk up and down Robertson a few days ago to see what’s new.  I spoke with Ari Cohen, the new owner of Fred’s Bakery who took over the  business 2 years ago, I checked out Tommy’s Express Car Wash, and I looked at the gated parking lot of 2512-2516 Robertson, a building left vacant for 30 years by an absentee landlady.  We wish she and her son would sell it already and allow a restaurant to open there. It would be a great addition to the existing eateries: Dolce Isola, Argentinian Empanadas, Campos, Monaco Gelato, Undergrind Cafe.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. For other posts about our “Great Street” click on Robertson under Categories

Romantic Bookstore

It was only a few days ago, while reading an article in Los Angeles Magazine about the 14 Best Mom and Pop bookstores in L.A., that I discovered The Ripped Bodice, A Romantic Bookstore, in downtown Culver City.  It opened March 4, 2016, after a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $90,000.  It’s the dream project of two sisters, Bea, 27, and Leah, 25, smart and accomplished young women. Leah graduated from USC in Visual and Performing Arts, Bea studied Fashion History at NYU, her master thesis was titled “Mending the Ripped Bodice.”

Bea, photo (c) Elisa Leonelli

Bea (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was so intrigued that I immediately contacted the sisters. Bea graciously received me and answered my questions. “Bodice Rippers” is a term used for erotic romance novels of the 1970s and 80s. Bea said they wanted to poke fun at that popular perception, and immediately communicate to their fans, “This store is for you.” “Sex is not something that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about, we all come from sex. It’s completely insane to me the way sex is discussed in this country, and all these issues that women are facing right now.  We’ve reverted into this dark age.”
Their store carries all sub-genres in the romance novels category, from paranormal to LGBTQ, and they host community events. “Thursday December 15, 8pm, is our monthly romantic comedy night, and this month we are collecting travel size toiletries to donate to women shelters in Los Angeles.”

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The store is huge and bright, decorated like a comfortable home, with armchairs and couches for reading, books are piled up everywhere. Get over there, it’s well worth a visit.

The Ripped Bodice: 424-603 4776
3806 Main St. Culver City, CA 90232

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Sprouts is here!

sprouts-w

I have been shopping at Sprouts for years, ever since they opened their first Los Angeles area store on Sepulveda at Jefferson in 2010. I was glad when they took over a location on Westwood Blvd, since that is closer to my regular routes. Recently I tried their new LaBrea store at Willoughby.  So I was very excited today to finally shop at their latest store on Venice Blvd, so close to my neighborhood.  It’s a place where I already go often, to shop at Trader Joe’s, or the sadly departed Office Max, to watch movies at the new Arclight Cinemas, to eat at my favorite restaurants in downtown Culver City, like EnjoyEat.

vegetables

I did my regular shopping, I love their Strouds brand of gelato, their heirloom tomatoes, their nuts, lentils and beans in bulk, their salad bar, their home-made sausages. But this was a special day.  The atmosphere was festive, with frequent buzzing sounds, just like at the slot machines in Las Vegas, when every 15th customer won a booklet of coupons.  They were giving away green recyclable bags and passing out sushi tastings.  You can also see the discounts on their website.

Sprouts. 8985 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 (424) 361-6611

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Dolce Isola is Capri

Dolce Isola 4sWe enjoy having Dolce Isola on Robertson, the bakery of the Ivy restaurant; they serve breakfast, sandwiches, salads and ice-cream.  The downstairs space is way too small, but they do have a few more quiet tables upstairs. Ever since they opened in 2007 we sometimes order their pricey food for the summer park nights organized by our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, where neighbors get together to eat, chat and have fun.  This week I wanted to get cookies from Dolce Isola for the last park night of 2016, since we had bought them from Fred’s Bakery on Robertson and Grand Casino in Culver City for the other park nights.  But I was unhappy that they only had one choice: chocolate chip cookies, so I bought Tiramisu instead.  I adore this delicious Italian custard, that literally means “pick me up” and I make it myself with soft mascarpone cheese.  The Dolce Isola version was so fabulous that many people attending the social evening asked for seconds.  Only after I got home I noticed the green design on the paper bag.  The Isola=island that is so sweet=dolce, is Capri, off the coast of Naples.  The descriptions read in Italian: the island of Love, the island of Sun, Arrivederci a Capri=let’s meet again in Capri.

Isola-Capri 1sDolce Isola 3s

So if you can’t travel to the real place in Italy, you should go to our local Dolce Isola at 2869 Robertson and have a leisurely good time, Italian style.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli