By Susan Payne
Two years after opening, the plastic partitions that separated employees and customers inside of Liberation Coffee House have come down.
For its second anniversary, the coffee house – located at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus – is finally allowing customers to experience the café’s community-focused offerings.
“It’s been a long two years with the pandemic,” said Nick Panepinto, the Center’s director of culinary training and operations. “So, we’re excited now that we can finally host community events and welcome everyone in the space.”
Students of the Center’s Culinary Arts Program are employed within the café to prepare for employment in the restaurant and hospitality industries, according to LGBT News Now.
Café visitors were offered free food surrounded by celebratory decorations on its anniversary and live music played throughout the afternoon.
“The space is really designed to be functional for different types of things, not just the coffee shop, but we haven’t had that experience yet in here,” Panepinto said.
“I love the community that we’ve built throughout the pandemic,” said café manager Erin Muscatelli. “I’m glad that we were able to stay open with the backing of the Center, and thanks to the local community that keeps coming back.”
One customer, Samantha Stephans, told LGBT News Now that they keep coming back because of the connections she formed with the staff and community.
“Honestly, it really is the people,” Stephans said. “But also the coffee. They really do make amazing coffee.”
“That’s really what we set out to do,” said Panepinto. “We have a lot of regular community members from local businesses and from the apartments [in the area]. They come every day and really have made it feel like their home.”
Panepinto said a resident of the Center’s nearby housing facilities expressed gratitude for the café during a difficult time.
“He wrote us a note that said, ‘This cafe helped me get through the pandemic because it was the one place where I felt like a social connection.’ That’s what we’re most proud of.”
Liberation Coffee House, 6725 Santa Monica Blvd., is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.