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Influential LGBTQIA Coffee Shop Cuties Has Closed Because of Coronavirus

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Plus: More closures arrive, a COVID-19 shutdown at Black Cat, and ongoing issues with food delivery apps

Cuties Coffee neon sign hangs on a brick building over a coffee shop.
Cuties Coffee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Los Angeles’s prominent LGBTQIA+ coffee shop Cuties has closed. Owners for the Heliotrope shop in East Hollywood, which had been hailed as a safe gathering space for Southern California’s queer, transgender, and other communities, say simply on Instagram that “our organization does not bring in enough revenue to pay for our space.” They add that they have “been accumulating debt to our landlord... [but] continuing to accumulate debt in an environment that shows little promise of operational safety in the near future is unwise.”

The HelMel address, which opened in 2017, was turned back over to the landlord on August 1, and Cuties will return to life as an underground coffee pop-up with a big online presence. What’s more, co-founder Virginia Bauman says that they are turning over ownership entirely to longtime manager Sasha Jones, naming her CEO of the company and transferring equity in the process. “This brand began with two white folks. If this project is to continue to fulfill its original values, it comes with ownership and leadership, with both centering Blackness.” For now Cuties will continue to host events, listening sessions, and informational panels on Instagram and elsewhere, and fans can continue to support via Patreon.

And in other news:

  • Fig & Olive seems to have closed on Melrose Place, though the Newport Beach location remains open. The company has scrubbed the Melrose location from its website, and no longer lists it as active anywhere.
  • Champion’s Curry is set to launch in Little Tokyo on August 15, says TimeOut LA. The popular Japanese brand lands at 136 Central Avenue, and will keep daily hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Duff’s Cakemix has returned for pickup and delivery in Irvine, Pasadena, and West Hollywood.

The historic Black Cat in Silver Lake has closed because of a positive COVID-19 test by a staff member.

  • Steve Schwartz from the Art of Tea is on the latest episode of the Fork in the Road podcast, talking about his time working as one of LA’s premier tea retailers, and how the coronavirus has shifted everything.
  • Ela Ela is the latest ghost kitchen restaurant concept to come from the H.Wood Group. This one focuses on California-Mediterranean flavors, and delivers out of West Hollywood.
  • Restaurants continue to struggle with delivery app issues says LAist, ranging from high fees to the fear of a reliance on technology not owned by the restaurants themselves. But with COID-19 struggles ongoing, some feel they may not have a better choice.
  • Shutters on the Beach’s primary hotel restaurant, 1 Pico, is reopening on Thursday with a new outdoor look called the Courtyard at 1 Pico. Chef David Almany (formerly of Mozza) and corporate director of food and beverage Franck Savoy (son of French chef Guy Savoy) will be on site turning out California al fresco decadence, with lots of wine included.