Coffee Table owner brewing new plans for Silver Lake restaurant

Coffee Table owner Mike Zamarripa in Eagle Rock cafe

Inspired by a visit to an Atlanta coffee house,  former music industry executive Mike Zamarripa decided he wanted to open something similar close to home in Silver Lake.  Zamarripa teamed up with a friend, Brett Schoenhals, a former controller at Buzz Coffee, and found a former doctors office in the north end of Silver Lake on Rowena Avenue  to open up their new business.  The reaction from many friends and family members was a  “What-are-you-thinking?” response.  Rowena had a lot of auto traffic to give the business visibility but there was little else – with the exception of auto repair shops and convalescent homes – to attract people to the strip.

But after opening The Coffee Table  in 1997,  Zamarripa and Schoenhals eventually established a thriving coffee house that was eventually joined by other restaurants – Blair’s, Edendale Grill, Michalengelo and Nicky D’s pizza – that have turned Rowena into a neighborhood dining destination.  Now, however, the Coffee Table  is preparing to close on Sept. 11 after a new property owner gave the Coffee Table 45 days to move out. That news has not only upset loyal Coffee Table customers but has raised worries about how the upcoming closure will affect the remaining Rowena Avenue restaurants and shops.

“What happens to Rowena is very important to us,” said Zamarripa, whose Coffee Table in Eagle Rock will remain open. “I’m not ready to give up on Silver Lake.”

Zamarripa is looking for investors to open a new Silver Lake location but is busy for now preparing for the closure of existing restaurant.  In 2007, the previous property owner had proposed building about 60 housing units on the site but would leave a storefront space for the Coffee Table to return, Zamarripa said.

Earlier this year, Zamarripa was surprised to discover that the previous landlord had sold the property, which is now owned by the Fifiteen Group of Miami.  Soon after,  the Coffee Table received a 30-day notice – eventually extended to 45 days – to move out of the property. The lease “was amicably resolved”  said Zamarripa but he does not know what the Fifteen Group has planned. “We have no idea if we be part of that,” Zamarripa said of any potential new development.

After signs announcing the Coffee Table’s  closure were posted on Thursday, one of the nearby business owners  expressed his concern about what the loss of the Coffee Table will do to foot traffic on Rowena, Zamarripa said.

Finding a  new location in Silver Lake won’t be easy or cheap, and Zamarripa concedes that there is a lot more competition for the  neighborhood’s coffee and restaurant dollars.   Business at the Silver Lake Coffee Table did slip as new Silver Lake cafes and restaurants opened but Zamarripa wants to retain a presence in the neighborhood he calls home.


  1. How about moving up Rowena to the vacant SILVER TAKE restaurant?

  2. I second Howie’s Silver Take suggestion. That’s a great spot and hasn’t been anything since a used car dealership that used to be there closed about 11 years ago!

  3. One of the nice things about the current location is easy parking. Hope that can be maintained for any new location.

  4. @SireneB

    It won’t be. I’m sure it will be put in to an area that takes parking away from residents who have a difficult enough time finding parking to begin with.

    But hey, at least you’re getting coffee and a muffin from the only coffee shop in Silver Lake, right?


  5. @DJ Bento Box

    Speaking as a local resident I have to ask myself which adds more to my quality of life, the Coffee Table or your car on the the street.

    Jeez is right.

  6. @SL-er

    You really think the Coffee Table adds to your “quality of life”? When there are 4 or 5 in a few block radius?

    You’ve really got quite the quality of life going on, yes?

    And as another local resident, the reason I worry about parking is because I can actually afford to own a home in the neighborhood and the difficulty of parking my second car on the street is infinitely more important to my “quality of life” when the residents of the 3 apartment buildings in my immediate vicinity have to battle for the few pieces of curb available than worrying about a local coffee shop that can’t afford to make rent.

    I think we can survive without another coffee shop.

    like really.

  7. @DJ Bento Box

    Yes, the Coffee Table does (did) indeed improve my quality of life. A place I can walk to every weekend and enjoy a quiet coffee and pastry on their outdoor patio while reading my week’s papers and magazines and then do my weekly shopping at TJ’s. I’m sorry you could not appreciate it the same way. However, the idea that that activity is of lesser merit/importance than your parking your second car conveniently on the street I will leave for the readers of this blog to decide for themselves. BTW – the article said nothing about being able to pay the rent – the new owners are tearing down the building and building condos there. There’s a certain irony in that if the occupants of the 60 proposed units also have second cars as you yourself do and they also want to park them conveniently on the street, there will be many more cars than the Coffee Table patrons ever brought.

  8. Dang, I was following the back-and-forth, and I thought I understood the points both SL-er and DJ Bento Box were making, but then Bento added the part about parking his second car on the street, and now I can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or not. Anyway, with regard to Bento’s other point, I’ve seen bento boxes for sale at Pavilion’s, and in light of what they cost, it’s no wonder DJ Bento Box can afford a house in Silver Lake. 🙂

  9. DJ Bento
    It is unfortunate that you are so short sighted. What may go in the land will NOT improve your quality of life and may indeed make it worse. Or perhaps having vacant building / land in our neighborhood is also a thing that adds to your quality of life. What make a neighborhood a neighborhood are the collection of small things. Stores, shops, markets, where everyone seems to know everyone else. I’m sorry you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  10. Does anyone remember A Dose of Joe, a coffeehouse on Rowena, in the building where Nicky D’s is now? I liked that place.

  11. I’m thinking about joining the DJ Bento Box fan club. Keep pushing those buttons!

  12. @DJ Bento Buck; you must have zero imagination if you think all the coffee houses in Silver Lake are all alike. Must be nice to think so simply about the world…

  13. Too bad this story gave no clue what will be going on with the site once vacated — kind of a major lapse in the story.

    I do know that a couple years ago, the property owner got approval for a huge development there, involving substantial earth moving. Despite community opposition over the size and density, the Neighborhood Council approved the project. So, is this eviction the start of the new, huge development? That development sounded like it was way out of character with everything else in that area.

  14. @DJ Bento Buck — in honor of thee, i will quote from joni mitchel (um, she’s a sorta hipster-like singer — i know how much you like hipsters:))

    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot
    With a pink hotel, a boutique
    And a swinging hot SPOT
    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    ‘Til it’s gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

  15. Silverlake Snarkles

    It’s time for Coffee Table to go.

    Our group goes there every Saturday and drives a lot of business their way (we usually have 15-20 people show up for breakfast). And after 2-3 years of going there and giving them so much business – the owners have never once said thank you for the business or acknowledged our group. Unlike Foxy’s in Glendale – where the owner regularly gives us freebies, birthday surprises, etc.

    And they have recently jacked their prices up 10-20% – all of that.. I”m outa there.

    Let them figure out another way of grinding money out of people! And yes, there are plenty of other places we’ll drive our business.

    Bye bye!

  16. I have so many fond life memories of Coffee Table. It pains me that it’s closing and that the community has no say about it. Apartments and condos do not a community make — coffee shops and parks do. Who is responsible? Who had the heads up on this? Aren’t our government officials supposed to keep things like this from happening? And James, I loved Dose of Joe, too. Remember Ross who worked there?

  17. I agree that it would be great if the Coffee Table could relocate to the “Silver Take” location which apparently is never going to open. MIKE OR BRETT, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, IS THAT A POSSIBILITY?

    And for my money, the Coffee Table Silver Lake has been fantastic. Yes, it’s a little pricey on some items, but unlike the lack of attention/gratitude that Silverlake Snarkles experienced, we had the opposite experience. My family and friends have become friends with most of the employees there and they’ve been gracious and a lot of fun to talk with. They’ve treated our little boy like a king too, and he’s made lots of friends there. CT/Silver Lake has undoubtedly added to our “quality of life” in NE Silver Lake. A helluva a lot more than the vacant lots, junked cars, broken down cars, and light industrial blight that defines much of the Rowena corridor from Glendale Blvd to Hyperion (all of which is walking distance to our house).

  18. The community is rather upset that the developer refused extension of the lease. There is no need to close the coffee table as building will only start way in the future. 15 group does not only deprive the community of their meeting place but forces a thriving business to close, kicks it’s employees on the street, and damages several other businesses and suppliers linked to the cafe. It is an anti Californian move on several levels. But what does big money from Miami care?

  19. The Coffee Table has provided these email addresses (below) to customers asking them to request a lease extension. They believe that with some pressure from the community, the Fifteen Group may let them keep their doors open even if it is for just a little longer. This is critical due to the number of indiviudals who are employed at this establishment.

    Lease extension requests should be sent to:
    Justin Barth – jbarth@fifteengroup.com
    Renee Weitzer – renee.weitzer@lacity.org
    Doug Mensman – doug.mensman@lacity.org

    Thank you for considering this request.

  20. My housemate was there today, he said no sign of pending closure.

  21. I feel sad and a loss. I will miss Mr.O, Oscar, and Carlos. I feel a big loss.

  22. Fifteen Group is the same company trying to tear down Wyvernwood in Boyle Heights. Read all about it here: http://laeastside.com/2008/08/the-fight-for-wyvernwood-part-i/

  23. @ Angelica you should read what he is trying to do to the tenants at the Wyvernwood Garden Apartments. They could care less about people, community!

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