Well it has finally come to pass…the old Metropolitan Coffee & Tea space, vacant since last May, is empty no more: Sabor 2 is the new tenant in the Pasadena Playhouse District location.
Here’s a big, loud bark out to y’all in Pasadena about this new casual cafe/coffeehouse!
It just opened this month. I like what I see & taste so far, early in its infancy. Yet, Sabor has an older sibling – Sabor y Cultura in Hollywood, on Hollywood Blvd of course. And, Sabor y Cultura had an earlier life when it first opened under its original ownership/name of Espresso Mi Cultura back in the 1990’s. I recall paying a couple of visits back in the last century whenever I passed thru Hollywood becuz of clients or coming home from the westside. If my recollection is correct even Huell Howser taped an episode of his KCET program from there.
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Min & Sharon are the young couple who own & manage both locations. In contrast to what appeared to be lacking in the prior cafes in this space, they bring restaurant experience and a healthy dose of realism about this business. Realistic enthusiasm, customer-oriented, and good people is how I would describe this couple.
Other advantages this new ownership brings to Sabor are a deeper menu beyond just coffee, tea, and a few pastries, and a couple of nice touches not always seen at a cafe of this sort. So, you WiFi-er’s don’t have to just survive basically on just coffee/tea & a pastry while you’re surfing or working the web!
Q & A with the owners of Sabor2 / Sabor y Cultura
Q1: Why did you decide to come to Pasadena, on Colorado Blvd, to open your second cafe? I (Sharon) spent a lot of time in Pasadena when I was younger, & a friend of Min’s let him know this location was vacant. We also like Old Pasadena, it’s just down the block. And we just felt like if we were ever going to be able to move into Pasadena – we better do it now.
Q2: Restaurants have been hit especially hard in this economic repression. Has the economic repression changed the way you’ve done business at your Hollywood location? Yes, but apparently not as much as many others. We make adjustments to meet our customers needs. The main adjustment have been to tweak our menu. We’re not going to sell what our customers really don’t want to buy.
Q3: What are the biggest challenges for someone to open a new cafe? It’s always a challenge but this bad economy has made it worse. Supplies keep getting costlier. Our Hollywood cafe was packed the other day. Nevertheless, in this economy we find people tend to spend a little less on the average. So, fortunately for us it hasn’t been the 20-40% decrease in business which has hit many others. We love our customers and they’ve returned it by their loyalty.
Q4: About how long does it take to open a cafe like this, once you’ve signed a lease & got the location? We just got our lease this past January. But as you know, Sharon and I have been negotiating & planning since last summer. There are a lot of things to think about before you can have a grand opening.
Q5: There is a lot of competition around. Coffee, tea, sandwiches, pastries can be found selling everywhere. So, why should a potential new customer choose to come to your place instead of another restaurant/cafe nearby? We have a history of positive reviews. You can check our website or go on the internet to read them. In fact, our Hollywood Sabor received recognition as one of the best cafes/coffeehouses for writers to work. We believe our coffee & Mexican Mocha are really good, better than average to say the least! Things are kept fresh, like we don’t sell old pastries from yesterday. We offer more variety in our menu. For example, we have shaved ice dessert…and not just one kind. How many casual restaurants offer a full breakfast menu, served all day – we do. Another reason to check us out is because we are starting to introduce some organic ingredients. Our sauces, pesto, & dressings are homemade by us. So, it’s a balance of quality with quantity, and we just try to do things better as time goes along. One more thing: if our customers are interested in Wi-Fi internet, such as students, we have it for them.
Q6: What do you recommend to a first-timer customer to order? A Mexican Mocha with a breakfast sandwich/wrap. For lunch they should try the Korean BBQ sandwich. But, we can’t really ignore all the other menu items which we honestly think are very good as well!
Ok, I hear you readers whispering in my big ears, “yeah great, but what do YOU think of their food & drink?” Well, it’s much too early for that. They are just into this a couple of weeks. You can go on the WWW to find positive reviews for their Hollywood Blvd cafe. In fact, Prospect Park Books stimulating food review book, EAT L.A, includes the cafe in their list of recommendations. Check out page 153 of the book for their positive take. Still, my 1st impression is they are definitely off to a better start than the first two cafes at this space. I’ve sampled, along with my foodie companion ET, a little of everything on their menu, and overall I’ve been impressed enuf to say I want them to succeed & grow here.
The foot & tire traffic on Colorado Blvd is starting to notice Pasadena’s Sabor y Cultura. Nevertheless, the restaurant biz is extremely competitive, rarely easy, and this economy is making it as tough as ever. So, they need your support to survive and thrive here in the city. Reward the hard work & risk this young couple is taking of opening up a nice addition to the Pasadena cafe life by at least checking it out yourself.
Ok, gotta run, gotta sniff out my next meal….
716 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101