Where’s The Local Flavor? The Habit Burger to join Starbucks and Chipotle at Echo Park shopping center

Mohawk Collective is nearly complete | Kelly Erickson


ECHO PARK — The final touches are being made, and in a few weeks the construction fence will be removed to fully reveal the retail and restaurant center known as Mohawk Collective. The tenants include major chains — Chipotle, Starbucks and The Habit Burger Grill — and outposts of a Venice yoga studio, a Pasadena ice cream store and a vegan cinnamon roll franchise. But what’s missing from the tenant roster so far are local independent businesses.

“We are not a community that cherishes chain stores,” said resident Annie Sperling during a Wednesday night community meeting devoted to the complex on Sunset Boulevard.

Citing the displacement of long-term businesses throughout Echo Park, and particularly along Sunset, many of the public comments  revolved around the concern over the types of businesses being leased space in the property. Sperling later offered the representatives of Continental Development Group a list of local businesses that she thought should be offered a lease at Mohawk Collective.

A representative for the developer said the firm had talked to “many local tenants.” When asked whether the developer is offering incentives to attract independent businesses, the developer’s representative said they are “still in discussions to motivate local businesses.”

Stretching along Sunset east of Mohawk Street, the buildings (formerly occupied by Lucy’s coin-laundry, Wells Tile & Antiques and other businesses) that make up Mohawk Collective will house about 15 tenants. Currently only a handful of tenants have signed leases in the former Lucy’s building, including Starbucks (which wants to serve beer and wine), Chipotle, Habit Burger, Bengees Ice Cream, Cinnaholic and LoveYoga. There will also be the return of a Wells Fargo ATM on location.

Photo by Kelly Erickson

Continental Development is seeking a conditional permit from the city that would allow for a full line of alcoholic beverages for eight restaurants; beer and wine for five restaurants, and off-site sales of a full line of alcoholic beverages for two retails spaces.

The application also requests extending operating hours beyond current regulations,  asking instead for opening hours of 5:00 am daily, and closing hours of 11:00 pm Sunday through Thursday, 1:00 am Fridays and Saturdays.

Of the current tenants, Starbucks, Chipotle and Habit Burger plan on applying for beer and alcohol licenses, and will be required to apply for their own and go through the process of getting neighborhood input prior to city approval.

After hearing from the developer and residents, the Echo Park Neighborhood Council’s Planning & Land Use Committee voted in favor of the Continental’s application with conditions, which includes limiting the closing hours of operation, recommends three on-site security guards, and limiting the sales of alcohol to a start time of 4 pm on weekdays and 10 am on weekends.

Tenants are already starting to work on their own spaces, and  plan to stagger the openings of the businesses.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. I was hoping for independent businesses here as well. I will go to Mohawk Bend instead of Habit burger to support local business. I will go to Tierra Mia Coffee and Andante Coffee instead of Starbucks to support local business. Get some nice new independently owned bars and restaurants in there please! I will say that the new construction is beautiful and removing the prior hideous eye-soar buildings is great! But I’m not down with these chains at all.

    • Bengee’s is an independent local business. Go support them!

    • I’m with you. I work for a local family owned coffee roaster. our coffee is made with care and love. the owner checks in with us and makes sure we’re happy. He lives in the community and spends money here. I haven’t had Starbucks since I was a teenager.

    • Starbucks has my vote. They are among best corporations in this country. They pay decent wages, offer benefits to their employees, etc. And their coffee is good. I have zero issues with Starbucks.

  2. Hey then fork up the money and start your independent business there then!

    • You don’t have to start your own business in order to support local independent business owners. you just have to be a good consumer, a conscious consumer, and be wise about who you give your hard-earned money to

  3. Agree with TheRealMonty — was looking forward to this opening, but I’m not at all excited about any of these uninspired openings. Habit Burger?? So disappointing.

  4. Oh good. That still leaves room for Hot Topic, Tillys or Sunglass Hut.

  5. Did you folks honestly think that a small local business could afford the rent in this new and expensive development? Let’s not be naive. It’s sad, but the neighborhood has become too expensive for these types of businesses. The owners of the development – as is their right – want to make a profit after laying down so much construction cash. I do wish they’d incentivize by lowering the rent on a couple of spaces to attract local, small businesses, but … that rarely, if ever, happens. The new place does look pretty great – and I like that they saved some portions of the pre-existing structures.

    As for Starbucks, there was already one inside the Lucy’s that used to be on the spot, so it’s just replacing the one lost during construction. I have no idea what Habit is, but if it’s any good, I’ll go … and I’ll also support local businesses. At least while there are any left (Sunset Junction Coffee Shop – love you).

    • Its a burger chain. They also make a reletivley good grilled chicken sandwich. The burgers aren’t anything worth your money though. I mean I’d even go so far as to say the burgers at Del Taco are better.

    • Of course small businesses can afford this! LA is a world class city, we have TONS of people opening businesses left and right. If people can afford to run independent restaurants and bars in Silver Lake, West Hollywood, Downtown, Hancock Park, etc, then they can easily afford whatever prices they’re asking here. I suspect this developer is in the pockets of these chains and is giving them priority.

  6. J. Wellington Wimpy

    I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a Habit Burger today.

  7. Definitely disappointed by this. Was hoping for some sort of HIIT place, though I suppose the yoga studio is better than nothing. And vegan cinnamon rolls, really? Is this supposed to be health food?

    Sounds like they have about 7 spots left to fill…hoping at least one of those will be a decent restaurant.

    • There’s a new crossfit place opening on Alvarado sometime soon I believe, in the old Prayer Center building

  8. umm… it’s replacing a very crappy laundry mat (that is a chain as well), and a STARBUCKS was ALREADY THERE.

    also — Venice Beach, and Pasadena are LOCAL.

    plus Habit burger was founded in Santa Barbara — also pretty darn LOCAL.

    i really enjoy that the eastsider covers what’s going on in these eastside hoods — but the click-baity “everything that’s new is terrible” articles that stir up NIMBY teeth gnashing, are super boring and predictable at this point.

  9. Bummer. Throw in a Banana Republic and call it a day.
    The building is gorgeous, but I was hoping for something remotely healthy and non corporate like Zinc Cafe or something:(

  10. TheEntireCountryisGentrifying

    These will be a welcome site to Echo Park. People seem to forget that many corporate business have thrived for years in Echo Park(McDonald’s, Burger King, Dominos, Taco Bell/KFC, little Caesars, to name a few). Also, the local businesses that were there previously were eye sores and seemed like money laundering businesses. That sporting good shop makes more transactions from the bus thank the 1990s sporting goods they never sell so somebody can claim their illegal money comes from that hole.
    The people that don’t like it just won’t go. Local business while thrive even more because the area will be attractive to a wider group of people.

    • Good points! I didn’t think about this from that perspective.

    • bathing at baxter

      Sometimes I want faster food. Habit Burger works for me. I’ve eaten at a few around town and have no complaints. Will be the best of it’s type in the neighborhood. However, a fast food operation without sufficient parking may not make sense.

  11. TheEntireCountryisGentrifying

    Don’t forget….Casa Buona is a much touted restaurant from Zack Pollack (of Alimento in silverake) will be on the corner of Sunset and Alvarado and will be opening soon in the former Pizza Buona (which is down the street now). It’s not part of this development but adjacent to it.

    • Right, and people where upset about this as well. Local businesses are gentrifying a neighborhood and chain businesses are ruining a neighborhood. There is literally. I winning with NIMBY’s

  12. My neighbor attended the meeting and reported additional happenings at the meeting that were not reported here.
    1. The biggest news is that the developer himself was secretly sitting in the audience! [ ] he had his daughter give the presentation and answer questions. Some questions were directed at him and he did not identify himself. It took a member of the of the community to point him out and even then he attempted to remain anonymous until a member of the committee flat out asked if it was him.
    2. Yes, there was a lot of talk about local flavor, but there was also a lot of talk about safety. The building is next door to a school and one of the driveways is just 5 feet from when children are crossing with no traffic light. When asked about this, the reply was they don’t have to do anything as they got the property and can use it the same way as before legally. Problem is, there was no alcohol before nope 1300 seats for consumers to sit, eat, drink, and hang out.
    3. Parking. Again before there was very limited seating and now they are expecting more that 1000 people coming through with the same 54 parking spaces. Their answer? People will bike and they will build bike racks. We need to start arranging for those parking permits now. I believe it is up to the residents to do so….

    • Good. I’m glad they’re not making much parking. Parking is what breeds traffic. If there are less parking spots, people will either bike (which I will do) or they will take a Lyft. This isn’t 1995. We need less parking spots. Not more.

  13. The place is not going to last long anyway since vehicles crash into it with such regularity.

  14. Surprised by the Habit and Chipotle; with all the Mexican food options, why would anyone go to Chipotle? (because they are transplants that don’t really know better, I’m guessing).

    However, those chains have lots of capital and it’s super easy for them to set up shop in anew place. Local businesses will take more time to get in there. Hopefully the local flavor will fill up more as it gets closer to completion and after the initial opening.

    Taco Zone, Taco Arrizas, and El Falmin Taco Truck, Burrito King, and Cuscatleca will keep my dollars.

  15. Nice addition to the area.. beats empty tagged storefronts any day. Ups the game for the area merchants.. as others have mentioned hopefully the balance of the vacancies will be filled with independent merchants.. but it is all about economic viability.. gotta have the capital to start.. and gotta have a solid buisiness model, the right product or service,enough paying customers and some room for growth .. it always comes down to that in the end.

  16. Oh God, do we need ANOTHER coffee shop and ANOTHER burger place? I get that the landlords need to capitalize on their investment by getting tenants who can afford their steep rent, but a chain restaurant can still be something more exciting than this… Din Tai Fung anyone?

  17. starbucks? STARBUCKS??? are you kidding me?

    $4 bad coffee when you can get excellent espresso all along Sunset Blvd at Woodcat, Andante, Tierra Mia

    • Plenty of people like Starbucks just fine, to each their own.
      There are chains all over EP: Burger King, McDonald’s, Valero, Mobil, CVS, Vons.
      Get Over It.

      • The owners of Woodcat are EP residents, The owners of Andante are from Ktown.
        When you spend money at their shops, you directly support the neighborhood and people who care about it.

        When you shop at chain restaurants you mainly support corporate heads that care nothing about Echo Park

  18. TheEntireCountryisGentrifying

    Imagine how silly you seem when you get mad at vacancies being filled with businesses that you narcissisticly don’t approve of. I’m sorry but the world doesn’t revolve around your approval. When you think about it the developer could care less. It’s all about filling the spots with business tenants. I doubt they’re thinking “well, that may not fit for the neighborhood so let’s keep it empty and lose money”.

    Please read up on Supply and Demand & look up the term “localism”

    Additionally, please look at yourself in the mirror when opposing anything that is foreign to what you’re comfortable wirh. Whether that’s corporate businesses, chain restaurants, or different cultures moving into your neighborhood. This is the same ignorance that the rest of the country feels towards immigrants. Ignorance is not bliss

  19. Grrrrr still reeling that the only local asian supermarket is closing – even if it is an eye-sore (aren’t all the good, authentic ones eye-sores? c’mon!). I also love Habit Burger but could not be more pissed that they and other chain restaurants are taking over this block. Soooooo sadddddd 🙁

    • How often did you shop there? Maybe they made a killing selling the place and are happy to move on to another phase of life? That seafood counter was disgusting. Not all authentic places have to look like sh*t, some are rather nice……..

  20. TheEntireCountryisGentrifying


    You are mixing up the developments. The one you are referring to is not the one the Article references. Mohawk Collective is on the southwest corner of The intersection of Alvarado and Sunset. The A Grocery development is towards the Eastern end of Echo Park on Sunset. That business actually has character and I shop there. It will be sad to see it changed but I’m sure they just sold the place from underneath them so it wasn’t up to them.

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