Status: Opened yesterday
After rumors and reveals, careful words from owner Doug Zell and tempting tweets, Intelligentsia officially opened the doors to its Pasadena location yesterday. The design, courtesy of Mass Architecture, reinterpreted a space that used to house a Wok ‘n Roll. It looks appropriately hipster-marvelous now, with lots of royal blue and exposed brick. There’s a main counter and queue path, a few areas for merchandise, and an abundance of seating. Similar elements from Intelligentsia’s Venice location exist, with wood and metal fixtures, but overall, this is a new brew of the quality-driven coffee brand.
According to Ty McNulty, Director of Retail Operations, Intelligentsia Pasadena is intended to be the neighborhood coffee bar -- coffee remains the focus of their brand -- but they also wanted to offer a menu of savory foods here as well. Why? First, Intelligentsia has noticed that their previous locations in Los Angeles -- first in Silverlake, then in Venice -- create a hub for the neighborhood. In the case of downtown Pasadena, Intelligentsia thought they could bring a local, organic food focus with them to complement their brand. Adding to that idea, Kyle Glanville, Director of Innovation, says, “When baristas get together behind closed doors and open up a few bottles of beer, what they talk about, what they complain about, is how coffee is seen as this lower tier food product. It’s not like wine, which has this upscale reputation, or even like beer, which has increased in popularity and respectability. But what about coffee? Which has a rainbow of nuances...” Introducing Matthew Poley’s (of Heirloom LA) food to Intelligentsia’s coffee bar creates a relationship between these concepts, nudging coffee’s place in the greater hierarchy of food and drink."
Lunch is available from 11AM until 5PM and then the more expansive dinner menu takes over after that. Think salads like McGrath Farms Cherry Tomato and Fava Bean Salad with Feta and Mixed Greens, ‘Black ‘n Blue’ Prime Beef Steak Salad with Dandelion Greens and Creme Fraiche Vinaigrette; Sandwiches: Homemade Burratta with Ricotta and Chevre, and a rotating selection of small plates: Roasted Vegetable Caponata Flatbreads, Pumpkin Browned Butter Sage Lasagna Cupcakes. Pastries from Bottega Louie and Cake Monkey are lined up in the front and available to-go or for dining in. A beer and wine license is coming, hopefully in a couple of months.
Then, Eater asked what was next for Intelligentsia in LA, Glanville said, “We’re done.” Wait, really? “Well, we set out to do a couple of things in Los Angeles, increase awareness of great coffee and make a unique impression. We’ve spread out across LA and we’re still expanding our wholesale business, but we know that as a company opens location after location, it stops being unique. Unless something really spectacular comes our way, for now, yes, we’re done.”
— Daniela Galarza