Following an extensive soft opening period delayed by layers of permits and hiccups, Bar Nine Collective is now open for business in LA's Culver City neighborhood. Featured in the 2013 edition of our Build-Outs of the Summer series, the team at Bar Nine have spent the last 9 months building, roasting, waiting, and practicing for service. Apparently the inspection process turned out to be an epic challenge, but in the meantime Bar Nine has become a hub for special coffee community for latte art throw downs, events, and informal gatherings.
The cafe itself features extensive Modbar taps, a Probat roaster, a handsome wooden front bar, and an airy combination of indoor and outdoor space. It is the perfect place to throw a party, as you can see in the photos throughout this piece (shot by the talented Amparo Rios).
And throw a party they did, back on March 28, which was then thought to be just days from their expected final approvals. More than 500 friends and colleagues gathered for a grand opening party to toast Bar Nine and the loyal team who has weathered the long haul. During that party I had a chance to chat with Zayde Naquib, founder of Bar Nine, who answered my questions on the long road to opening day.
Congratulations on your almost-opening-night party! How did it feel to see Bar Nine's space filled up with well-wishers?
It was incredible! We felt a lot of love from all the guests. I never anticipated the amount of excitement or people that graced our business that evening. To see over 500 people in a few short hours was exhilarating, and having Kogi, Coolhaus, Red Truck Juice Co, and Angel City there to celebrate with us was amazing. They all did a beautiful job and really added to the atmosphere.
You've been throwing latte art events and parties over the last few months. How much is having events part of the mission of Bar Nine?
It is very organically becoming a big part of it. We've always talked about having other specialty-oriented happenings take place, but the scope of those ideas were pretty low-key. I accidentally created a space where people like to party, so why not pursue it? Everybody likes having a good time with friends, and the real estate we have definitely affords us to be creative and find many uses for the space in addition to the coffee.
An exorbitant amount. From navigating bureaucracy, to designing a space, to building a team and doing it all solo was tough, but ultimately very rewarding. Being your own general contractor, designer, and everything in between may not be the smartest decision, but it makes the end goal of actually getting this thing open that much sweeter. I also learned that I really shouldn't have been able to pull off what we did based on a myriad of things, from zoning, to occupancy, to health requirements in LA County, etc. There's a reason unique business doesn't happen often, it doesn't fit into a box that can be checked off, so pulling it off is a bit of a magic act.
What did those months of soft open limbo teach you?
It was a really terrific way of meeting guests and honing service and hospitality. We got to organically develop our bar flow based on real-time circumstances, which was pretty incredible. Lots of trial and error, especially when it came to the way we were approaching extraction. It felt like an extended dress rehearsal, and we feel really ready to move on to the big stage and do it right. The absolute best thing was connecting with people though. There is a wonderful community in Culver City that we are now a part of, and we couldn't feel more grateful for the opportunity to serve it with the care it deserves.
What is the first thing you'll do on opening day?
Drink a lot of coffee and get to work!
Julie Wolfson is a Sprudge.com staff writer and helms our Los Angeles desk. Read more Julie Wolfson on Sprudge.
Photography by Amparo Rios.