Living in Los Angeles, the best way to make my big, sprawling, at times impersonal city feel smaller is to get to know my neighbors, the creatives and business owners in my neighborhood. My family's home is in the the colorful neighborhood of Melrose, close to the design-focused areas of Beverly, La Brea, and the quaint walking street with small shops known as Larchmont Village. Every Sunday morning I shop at the Larchmont Farmers Market – awesome produce, locally made cheese – and I've always wished there were a really nice place for me to get espresso on the way. You know, one of “my kind’ of coffee bars.
So when Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski – you know, the G&B guys, they're kind of a specialty coffee household name at this point – announced that they were opening a café on Larchmont, I was beyond thrilled. The fact that they were going to be teaming up with the soft spoken and friendly Abel Eljam was icing on the cake. Mr. Eljam is the longtime owner of a Baskin Robbins scoop shop, which he's transformed with Kyle and Charles into a cafe space called “Go Get Em Tiger”.
Looking back I should have know Eljam was up to something. One day I ran into him at Paper or Plastik. Then I saw him drinking coffee at Handsome and Sqirl. He confessed to me that it was time to close his Baskin Robbins, and a lightbulb went off. “Are you thinking about coffee?” With a twinkle in his eye, his response was… maybe.
GGET has already been open for around a week. I've been in quite a few times for several cups of coffee and espresso (all on the name of research right?), and recently I had a chance to sit down with Eljam to get the story of how he found himself turning his Baskin Robbins into a modern coffee bar with two famous baristas.
“One of my friends loves coffee. She said you should go into the coffee business and I said, “OK”. So we went around,” Eljam told me. “The first time was at Paper or Plastik, and I saw you there. I had been to Intelligentsia before and Gjelina. I went to Handsome. We saw each other at Sqirl. Before that I went to a few places in Santa Monica and to Short Cake at the Farmers Market.”
While Eljam was enjoying checking out some of LA’s best coffeebars, he met Intelligentsia’s James Marcotte who introduced him to Kyle Glanville. “At the beginning Kyle was going to only be a consultant to help me to open a coffee place. Then we decided to become partners,” said Eljam.
While Glanville and Babinski will oversee the coffee program and operation for their two cafes, Eljam will continue to finish the final details of construction on Larchmont and will mostly be dealing with the business side in the office. When asked what he wanted to be part of the coffee community and start over with a whole new company, Eljam responded, “I am from Paris. In Europe, you go to the bar and have an espresso. I love that idea of a café bar. At the beginning when I was going to open on my own I was going to call it Le Garage. When we became partners Kyle came up with this name. At first I was shocked, “ confesses Eljam. “After that I loved it. My wife loves the name. My best friend David Oved, an architect who helped us a lot though construction, he loves the name too. And here we are. Now that we are open I love to see people come stand at the bar and have a coffee.”
At this point in my interview with Eljam, Mr. Glanville himself walked through the door, and let me pick his brain on some more details about the coffee program and menu. “Right now we have a La Marzocco 4 group GB5. That’s a loner until we get our slightly customized 4 group Linea. It’s an automatic espresso machine which means it stops itself. We program it to dispense a certain amount of water and it stops. It’s not like a fully manual thing. We are going with more automation because it is more consistent,” explained Glanville.
Pastries are by Pete the Baker, same as G&B at Grand Central Market. They'll also be serving the truly amazing Donut Snob brand donuts, only on weekends currently, although the plan is to have these tasty donuts available 7 days a week soon. “I love donuts,” Kyle confessed to me. “We will add more stuff slowly. Waffles will be a part of it and toast.
The menu at GGET still says “soft open” and you get a feeling that there's much more to come here on Larchmont. According to Glanville, to be considered ‘open’ is a fluid thing. “We don’t have any decaf right now. There are just a few components that are still missing. Over time we will continue to build,” Kyle told me. “It’s kind of like in Gmail. If you look in the corner, I don’t know if it still does, but for years its said “beta”. Beta means it is not a finished product. I think we might be in beta for a while.”
I'm already pretty much a daily visitor, so I'm seeing the little changes and progressions happen first hand. Yesterday custom hand-made ceramic mugs by Ben Medansky arrived. Their roaster roster keeps expanding: they're currently serving Ritual, Heart and 49th Parallel, and soon they'll be offering the likes of Terroir, Intelligentsia, Phil & Sebastian and a few more. And there's this mantra that keeps swirling around my head: “It's time for a coffee, so I can “go get” to the rest of my day like a ‘tiger.’”
So as you can see, the name works. This is definitely one of “my kind” of coffee bars, and I'll be there again later today, after I finish this article, drinking coffee and hanging out with my family, friends and neighbors. LA might feel like a big, sprawling, impersonal city sometimes, but cafes like Go Get Em Tiger are anything but.
Julie Wolfson (@JulieWolfson) is a staff writer for Sprudge.com, based in Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor to Cool Hunting, among other publications in the LA area. Read more Julie Wolfson here!