“Our goal is to be part of the fabric of the Arts District.”
That's the word of Kyle Glanville, co-founder and co-entrepreneur at Go Get Em Tiger, an independent Los Angeles roaster-retail cafe brand. I'm speaking to him today from inside GGET's newest cafe, a 400-square-foot space in the heart of LA's teeming Arts District. We're just a few blocks from where, all the way back in 2011, Handsome Coffee (RIP) planted a flag for specialty coffee in this neighborhood at 582 Mateo. (It is now a Blue Bottle.)
The vibe here at Go Get Em feels industrial and hip—there is a Shinola retail store next door, natch—but shot through with an approach to clean space and line art that evokes the company's first cafe space in LA, over on Larchmont. The two cafes are about six miles apart, but the aesthetic difference between neighborhoods cannot be overstated. There is also another new GGET in Highland Park, east of the Los Angeles River, in the same building as Highland Park Natural Wine. The brand plans to open several new cafes (plural) across the Los Angeles region in 2019 and 2020.
But here on E. 3rd, the bar is outfitted with GGET’s favorite La Marzocco PB, in deep tiger orange, paired with Mazzer grinders. There is house-made almond milk, freshly turned. Watching over the baristas stands a female boxer with her fists raised. The simple line art stands out thanks to her red gloves, drawing your eyes to the corner where she waits. The art evokes a classic, knowingly retro Pee-Chee folders style, which Glanville describes as a fundamental part of the brand. “We want characters who are doing something remarkable,” he tells me.
An in-house design team handled the space’s slight expansion and outfitting. This is the first time GGET has handled all the design work themselves, a sure sign the company is growing. The centerpiece of the industrial architecture is a floor-to-ceiling garage-style door with windows to let in light and framed by reinforced steel beams. Floating shelves on a wall across from the bar display all their retail coffee, the pastel bright packages serving as both tempting retail and cheery candy-colored decor. A rack of GGET shirts hangs in the window, and against the wall next to the bar are other shelves of home-brewing retail, as well as more swag. Like Larchmont, GGET Arts District has a long bar where customers can stand and order from anywhere. There are a couple of two-tops outside for soaking up the sun, and people watching the busy neighborhood.
The food menu here is more compact than say, at the brand's Los Feliz spot, where food is a major focus. “We want to focus on the hits,” says Glanville, “but we're walking a perilous line.” He means to make sure that GGET remains a coffee shop in the public eye, instead of being perceived as a restaurant. “Food here should orbit the gravitational pull of the coffee,” Glanville explains, which means you can get stuff like waffles, granola, or a frittata here in the Arts District. It's food that wants to live with coffee.
This Arts District location opened in late 2018, and it marks just the latest growth iteration for a part of Los Angeles that's become synonymous with generational change. In the last 15 years, this neighborhood has experienced a renaissance, moving from abandoned buildings, through artist lofts, to a more bourgeois crowd with the money for luxury lofts and curated boutiques. But the undercurrent remains friendly and a little bohemian—there's a reason why Hollywood films so many New York City scenes on these blocks—and the staff reflects back the same vibe. Though by no means the only coffee shop in the area (there are three other shops serving coffee within spitting distance), GGET has already drawn their regulars and is consistently busy.
“The most gratifying experience is when you can be early to a neighborhood that is coming into itself,” Glanville says, and you can see it happening before your very eyes through the cafe's windows onto 3rd. The block is bustling, and streams naturally into part of the SCI-Arc campus, the gallery Hauser & Wirth, and the half-dozen boutiques and dozen restaurants nearby. “The Arts District chews up and spits out coffee shops,” he laughs, the implication being—but not this one. Only time will tell, but a strong set of opening months seems to portend well for the future of Go Get Em in the Arts District. They seem ready to sink their claws in and stick around for the long haul.
Photos courtesy of Go Get Em Tiger.