Bye-bye, Broke Girls
  • Bye-bye, Broke Girls
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Backyard Café

3562 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights

Normal Heights lost a coffee shop in June, then promptly gained a replacement, as the owners of Broke Girls Coffee Bar (3562 Adams Ave) sold their business, brewing equipment and all, and moved on to other pursuits. New ownership closed the shop temporarily to make a few changes to signage and decor.

Malakiah Hammers and April Walsh were the broke girls in question. They opened in May 2013, with a name evoking the punk-rock associations and style of a countercultural coffee shop. Described by customers as “A coffee shop with character” and a “small urban hang-out with a sweet selection of beans roasted to perfection,” the coffee shop made a niche in the neighborhood by offering outdoor seating on front and back patios, serving gluten-free and vegan pastries (baked by Walsh), and brewing quality West Bean roasted coffee. They also received notice for their “suspended coffee” program, wherein customers could purchase an advance cup of coffee to be gifted to broke fellow customers later in the day.

They closed the shop in June, as Hammers plans to marry in the fall and start a family, while Walsh is pursuing a new project at Harrison Serenity Ranch on Palomar Mountain. Walsh says “We sold the business turnkey style to new owners and excited to see them set their dream in motion!”

The new owners are Laura McNary and Valentin Salas, a couple who recently decided to establish roots here, drawn by ocean and sunshine after time spent in Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico. By renaming the shop Backyard Café, they hope to put the focus on the colorful rear courtyard casual visitors to the café might otherwise fail to notice. They aim to maximize the potential of the outdoor space by adding structure and new seating. McNary says they’re also “in the process of getting a beer and wine license,” while Salas says they hope the shop may continue to host occasional music performances.

Backyard Café will offer paninis and pastries, and while it will continue to serve espresso, pour-over, and cold drinks, the new shop is making a switch to Café Virtuoso beans, McNary saying Virtuoso “seemed like a good fit for us, they helped us out a lot.”

McNary and Salas are both new to the coffee business and see operating a café as an opportunity to escape corporate life, which might also apply to their customers. McNary envisions “a place where people can come and hang out, maybe get away from the office and sit outside and do some work.”

“And relax,” Salas adds, “bring family.”

The new shop will initially be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the couple say they’re looking forward to becoming a part of the Normal Heights community. “We’re excited,” Salas says. “We’re ready.”

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Ian Anderson July 1, 2015 @ 3:57 p.m.

UPDATE: The owners of Backyard Café now tell me they've changed course and decided to continue offering West Bean coffee at the shop after all, based on feedback from regular Broke Girls customers who say they've come to enjoy having it available in Normal Heights.

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