A second location for Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen opened today in Downtown Inglewood, and its co-founders have a famous partner in tow. Co-founders Ajay Relan and Yonnie Hagos partnered with producer and actress Issa Rae from HBO’s Insecure. Hilltop’s new restaurant resides in a massive space next to Inglewood City Hall and Stevie Wonder’s radio station, KJLH.
Hilltop Inglewood took on a split-level open floor plan with a bar at the center. The cafe clocks in at 3,500 feet and formerly housed Sweetie Pies, which closed in 2017. Hagos has deep connection to South LA, particularly in this section of Inglewood:
“South LA made us - we all have roots here. I went to elementary school at Inglewood Christian right around the corner. It means everything to us to bring this to a neighborhood where we spent our formative years.”
The team uses coffee beans from Tectonic Coffee, and keeps a daytime menu with breakfast options, bowls, beignets, and Hilltop’s signature droptops. These thick open-faced sandwiches feature toppings and a distinct reference to South LA car culture.
Rae’s View Park roots fueled her efforts with HillItop and her future entertainment projects. Earlier this year, Rae closed on a commercial property that will serve as headquarters for Issa Rae Productions. Rae hoped to partner after the Hilltop’s original View Park location opened in 2018. She envisions Hilltop as a hub for creativity and space for the neighborhood:
“I’ve always wanted a coffee shop in my neighborhood. Coffee shops facilitate productivity in so many ways, they facilitate collaboration. I’ve personally have done all my writing in coffee shops. So it always disappointed me that there weren’t any that were black-owned (or) people of color-owned in my neighborhood. Now to have the Inglewood location I was just immensely proud because it’s home. I just feel like it’s so important to have these spaces where you feel safe where you can be creative, and have a sense of comfort. To know that it’s your space.”
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen is part of the surging coffee wave throughout South LA. A similar large-scale cafe and community space is coming to South LA in 2020. Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee leased an 11,000-square-foot space in Jefferson Park with a roastery, stage, performance area, and workspace. Hilltop Inglewood hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen. 170 N. La Brea Avenue, Inglewood, CA