January 22, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

The Woman Behind a Local Flavor

By Melanie Camp

Hear about Lauren’s Koeppe’s journey in a Beautiful Hollywood podcast special, Woman, ROAR! Click the link here to listen.

Having just launched two new restaurants in Venice, California, Create Hospitality Founder & CEO, Lauren Koeppe, is excited to share some cocktails. 

All of them, actually. 

Every one, on The Pier House menu, sits before me, condensation beginning to sweat on the side of chilled glasses, they beg me to dive in. 

The PH Margarita has a dash of blue butterfly pea flower that reacts with the lemon juice in the sour and turns the drink a delicate lilac color. I remembered reading somewhere that butterfly pea flower is good for your eyes, so I decided to start with this one.

The cocktails are strong and delicious at The Pier House. A dangerous combination for a lightweight. Yes, I’m aware as an Australian born woman, I am letting the team down.

Another healthy (in my opinion) choice cocktail on the menu, is the Amoxicillin. Its base is Tippling’s Ginger Beer Cordial.

“You always want something delicious and refreshing with clean ingredients when you’re making a cocktail. For the most part, cocktail mixers are gross,” said Koeppe of her decision to team up with the Venice-based, boutique, beverage manufacturer. Koeppe first met Tippling’s founder, Vytas Juskys at Burning Man a few years ago.

Another local connection was Venice artists, Patrick Marston and his husband, Michael Brunt. The two came on board to create one of their iconic vertical garden moss walls. The piece provides a blanket of green inside the sunset room, a previously under-utilized space that looks out across the boardwalk to the beach.

Google commissioned one of Marston and Brunt’s first moss walls nearly ten years ago and demand continues to grow. Another commission was for actress and singer Hayley Orrantia, best known for portraying Erica Goldberg on the ABC comedy series The Goldbergs. Orrantia featured a moss wall on the set of her ‘If I Don’t’ music video and later had the artists help her install it at her home.

Marston said people always seem to find a calm within themselves around the walls. “It’s always wonderful to see people “Exhale” when around the vertical garden moss walls,” he said.

Cocktail-wise, Marston and Brunt said it was difficult to recommend just one at The Pier House. Forced to choose, Marston suggests the Whiskey Punch and Brunt, the Apricot Swizzle. “It’s a bit sweeter. Just like him,” said Marston.

Making genuine connections has been a vital ingredient to Koeppe’s success. Building a name for herself in the hospitality industry working at world-class restaurants, including The Standard on the New York City High Line, Hakkasan in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, and Hinoki & the Bird here in Los Angeles. She has worked with Celebrity Chefs, Antonia Lofaso, who has the Venice restaurant Scopa, and Australian chef Curtis Stone. 

“It is never hustling. It is about connecting,” Koeppe said. The Pier House and Cartolina’s General Manager, Patrick Hotchkiss is a connection. Koeppe worked with him at Hinoki and the Bird.

Even the Venice neighborhood plays a part in the collaboration, with Koeppe taking time out to recharge by exploring local spots with her partner Page and their husky. 

Koeppe’s life and career haven’t always followed an upward trajectory. Growing up in Pacific Palisades, Koeppe spent her entire childhood dancing. She went so far as to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in modern dance. 

However, she didn’t enjoy the ruthless competitiveness of auditions.

Hospitality gave her everything she loved about dancing.

“It’s like putting on a show every night. You prepare the books and make sure everything is ready for everybody to be seated. It’s almost like you’re choreographing everything. Then, the guests start to come in, and you’ve got to facilitate the evening for them. You know? Every night is different,” she said.

A year into her biggest career opportunity, working in Miami at the Fontainebleau, Koeppe found out her father had leukemia. “I told my boss that day, ‘I’m sorry I have to leave.’” Koeppe dropped everything to join her family to be by her father’s side at a hospital in New York. “He was everything to me,” she said. 

After her father passed away, Koeppe, her mother, and sister returned to Los Angeles with the rest of her family. Getting back into the swing of things career-wise took time. However, Koeppe was not too proud to have to prove herself all over again, taking a position for which she was, arguably, overqualified. The ups and down of life, according to Koeppe, “are always an opportunity to learn.”

Koeppe’s energy is calm, yet powerful. Like a hawk gliding high above ready to dive with precision into the smaller details. Like, selecting plates with a perfect mix of patterns and cutlery that has a worn look, all chosen to give the new restaurant a feeling it has been in Venice for years.

She juggles work and life, in the thick of the chaos of pulling together a restaurant project, thanks to the team she has built up over the years. 

“So, it’s not just me. Being a good director is about leading people and pushing them to pull together the product or whatever material you need from them and making it the best. So, you’re working collectively,” Koeppe said.

And then, it is essential to get away said Koeppe, “Get out and travel, explore. Allow yourself the time to take in new information. If you’re only in the grind, in the grind, then you’re not receptive to new information.” 

Even if you can only go as far as exploring your own city Koeppe said discovering something new can be inspiring. 

Cheers to that!

Try the cocktails and everything else that is delicious at The Pier House 7 West Washington Blvd., Venice, CA. Carolina is next door.

Hear more about Lauren’s Koeppe’s journey in a Beautiful Hollywood podcast special, Woman, ROAR! Click the link here to listen.

Find more stories at BeautifulHollywood.com

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