Here Comes the Cavalry to the Rescue disguised as Cafe con Leche!


This morning I see a blog on Grub Street LA, extolling a subsidiary of the Coffee Table called “Cafe con Leche” as the savior of Self Help Graphics and Art in East LA.  Franchisers of some LA Coffee Table branches are also owners of the ‘formerly known as” the Self Help Graphics building at the corner of Gage & Cesar Chavez—AND entrepreneurs of Cafe con Leche du ELA.  Hmmm–this blog which is called “Cafe con Leche Could Keep Self Help Graphics in the Chips” smells like the spin that these hipster-franchise amalgamators have been shoving down our throats since last year.  Fellas, what happen to that part in the lease contract about not using  SHG’s 37 years of community involvement to promote yourselves?    Eastsiders, can you say “Coffee Table” or does it really have to be interpreted in El Castellano?  As a hardworking volunteer in the team of many artists and activists who toil every week to keep Self Help Graphics and Art vibrant and open, I look forward to those residual checks coming in to keep ELA art in ‘the chips”.  Damn, call me and save yourself a stamp, I will personally pick that check up.  By the way—brrrring, brrring, we’ve been calling you to come and fix the lights and leaky roof for a few weeks now.  Hope we don’t have to wait until the chips roll in to get that fixed.

To read the whole preposterous blog and some insightful comments click here

12 thoughts on “Here Comes the Cavalry to the Rescue disguised as Cafe con Leche!

  1. To the Coffee Table (Cafe con Leche)owner,

    Not only, will the community and artists not support the commercialization of Self Help Graphics- We will boycott the building and all its business. Self Help Graphics is more than location and a building.
    Don’t think the community depends on a building, there are hundreds of garages where art is currently being created.
    Remember Prop 187- It woke up a giant.
    We will also take the noice to your METRO area location (Silver Lake).
    You want street credit earn it, YOU CANT BUY IT.

  2. This is kinda crazy cause if you read the original piece on this place, it totally makes it seem as if it’s associated with SHG. Thanks for enlightening us and setting the record straight!

  3. it would be great to get more in depth info on this whole situation with SHG staying afloat. How exactly would Cafe con Leche help SHG earn more money? just by supposedly bringing in more people who might buy a print? or through paying rent to SHG?

    For a non-profit to survive nowadays it needs a steady stream of money from a source that doesn’t 100% dictate how it is spent (not from gov or from foundations) so maybe that is why they are interested in this deal? I agree that a hipster business won’t attract hipsters to Eastlos to spend — Echoparque is “authentic” yet comfy enough for them. But respecting the community that is already there and selling stuff to them is a good idea. What about selling art supplies? I do feel that SHG is under-utilized. As a non-profit person myself, i would have that place packed all the time with youth & college students & families.

  4. Gracias Victoria for making note of this, I do hope the best outcome arises from this situation.
    And muchas gracias for donating your time and resources to SHG, from someone who has benefitted from the organization.

    Homeboy who did the metal work downstairs in the back always lent me their ladder when I needed it to paint the mural across the street. Give me the word and I will summons tonatiuh to start chingasos!

  5. The original article is misleading in that it attempts to connect Cafe con Leche with SHG. This is wrong… However, I do not believe Cafe con Leche should be held responsible for this writer’s angle on a story (unless they had something to do with it). It seems to me that they are simply opening a cafe in the same building as SHG. What’s the problem? Why all the xenophobia? If the new cafe draws more people to the neighborhood and these people buy art from SHG, this benefits SHG and the community. Will existing members of the community pay $5 for a latte and go next door to buy art? No. Will white people from outside of the community pay $5 for a latte and go next door to buy art? Yes. How does this hurt SHG or the artists in the community if they are selling art, gaining greater exposure, and expanding their audience?

  6. Just seems like commerical co-opting; its very unsettling. I know we have all spoken about gentrification, and how it looms over several neighborhoods in LA, but this seems as an eerie precursor for something more. I was really hoping the river would act as a moat, and that the first pelon they came across would scare them back to their Echo Park coffe shops.

  7. classic example of gentrification.
    an outsider business comes to a neighborhood or building that houses exotic food, culture or unique art and wants to use it to benefit their new venture. but they are not their to serve the existing community, they come with the plan of opening the way for more people like themselves.

    they want to be the first on the prairie and use the beauties of the prairie as a means of getting more people like themselves to come and settle here, never considering the residents who have been there forever and what they need or want for their area.

    gentrification, since 1492.

    know your history, see the patterns.

  8. The really sad thing is that general conversation about those foreign lands East of the river tends to be about how they need to be saved. Maybe there is more need here than in other places but it just seems like the coverage tends to be about transforming or “fixing” the Eastside than anything else, thus the well-meaning saviors that regularly bless us with their good intentions.

  9. I think what many people here fail to understand is that the primarly reason for starting a business is to make a profit. A savy business person will recognize opportunity/potential and grab it. Entrepreneurs set up businesses based on their expertise, experience, education, and background. I’m guessing that the owners of Cafe con Leche see an opportunity to make money… pure and simple. As long as they are respectful of the community (and so far they have been), get the proper business licenses, and follow the law, I don’t see a problem. If they are making money, they will stay in business. If they arene’t making money, they won’t stay in business. Everyone has a right to make a living.

    Here’s an example. Let’s say I’m from Italy and move to El Sereno… All of the restaurants in the neighborhood are Mexican or Central American. I’m a damn good Italian cook and I’d like to open an Italian restaurant… Do I not have that right? Instead, should I open another taco joint because the community is 97% Latino? That would be a foolish endeavor because I am not using my experience and expertise.

    Here’s another example. Let’s say I’m from Mexico and I move to a predominantly white community in Indiana… I’m a damn good Mexican cook and I see that there are no really good or authentic Mexican restaurants in the area. In fact, all the existing “Mexican” restaurants put lettuce and cheese on their hard-shelled tacos. Do I not have the right to open an authentic Mexican restaurant in the predominantly white community? Should I open another hamburger joint instead to cater to the existing community? I think the wise move would be to open my Mexican restaurant and make a ton of profit in the process because the community has never experienced Mexican food the way I prepare it. My goal is to make a profit and put food on my family’s table.

    If existing members of the community would prefer to spend $1 on a cup of coffee at the panaderia, fine, nobody is forcing them to buy a $5 cup of coffee. You can still go to the panaderia. However, there may be others who prefer the $5 cup of coffee and atmosphere of the new coffee shop. Life is about choices, trying new things, experiencing new things… I say the more choices the merrier.

    If it’s simply that you don’t want to see white faces in East LA, that’s a whole other issue entirely.

  10. If those who run SHG would like to invite Cafe Con Leche into the building, then who’s to argue?

  11. Mike–no one is challenging ‘enterprise’–which is defined as the practice of starting new organizations, particularly new businesses. “NEW” being the key word. If someone is so smart and savvy in their knowledge of business–then why the hell do they have to piggy-back on the reputation of a business that has been around for 37 years, worked extremely hard to create something out of nothing, has an international image and an expertise in an art movement genre that it was key in defining? That’s not smart enterprise, that is called “exploitation”. Exploitation is defined as “taking something off a person or group that rightfully belongs to them.” OR “Using somebody against his will, or without his consent or knowledge.” If Cafe con Leche is so chingon, they should not try and USE Self Help Graphics in their press—AND–yes, they did do this, because no one but Cafe con Leche and SHG knows that they want to ‘showcase’ SHG prints in their cafe. Also, the answer to them is NO!–they should BUY their own collection of SHG prints to show in their cafe—they should not look to ‘borrow’ or ‘showcase’ art. We don’t need a neighbor with benefits. We need people that love and respect SHG. Showcasing art for FREE will not help the community. Buying art and bringing in NEW collectors, not the one’s already coming to Self Help Graphics–will help the community. I would like them to stand on their own two feet and appeal to greater LA, using their real name of “Coffee Table”, not a lame spin off name to appeal to the Eastside. Is Coffee Table in such a desperate state that they cannot stand on their own reputation and business networks? Either you, yourself (Mike) are one of these ‘get rich quick’ business people who already have this country in ruins, or an instigator or part of the Cafe con Leche crew. Your words fall on deaf ears.

  12. Victoria- I think you are failing to understand some simple facts. You (Victoria) do not get to dictate the terms of how one business owner runs his or her business. In a perfect world, it would be great if we could all dictate how we would like to see our community businesses operate or dictate what they sell. Fortunately, we live in a society where business owners are free to operate however they want and sell whatever they want within the limits of the law.

    Let me get this straight, Cafe con Leche should use the name “Coffee Table” because that’s what Victoria wants them to do? Are you kidding me? Could it be that the owners of the coffee table are trying to create a new cafe that is distinct from their other business in Silverlake? Or perhaps the owners don’t want to open another exact copy of the “Coffee Table?” Did you ever think of that? In business this happens all the time (see El Cholo-

    I still don’t see how Cafe con Leche is “exploiting” SHG? The only thing they can be rightfully accused of is sharing a building with SHG. Ok, the blogger talked to one of the owners and they discussed “showcasing” SHG artwork on the walls. It’s a natural topic to discuss as they are sharing the same building! Maybe the “showcasing” part was wishful thinking? If “showcasing” artwork of SHG offends you so much, perhaps you should speak with the owners and let them know how you feel. While you are at it, you should also make sure SHG artwork is not “showcased” anywhere else either. The blog you reference in your original post is literally 2 short paragraphs and I don’t see how one could cry exploitaion from a brief blog most people have probably never heard of. Furthermore, I believe it’s fairly commonplace for cafes, restaurants, and salons to “showcase” artwork for free.

    It’s SHG’s prerogative if they want to “showcase” artwork in the cafe or not. It’s also SHG’s prerogative if they want to be a friendly or hostile neighbor. All I know is that it would be a shame if artwork other than SHG’s artwork were on the walls of the cafe if for no other reason than they share the same building. Whether they buy it or not is none of my business.

    For the record, I work in education, not business… and I don’t ever plan on going to Cafe con Leche nor the Coffee Table for a $5 coffee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *