Intelligentsia Pasadena Preview

The last Intelligentsia opening sent shockwaves that reverberated well beyond the coffee community, with over 1000 people packing the company’s Venice coffeehouse for the grand opening party. Now Doug Zell and his crew are turning their attention to Old Pasadena for a summer opening. Director of Innovation Kyle Glanville recently led me on a tour of the empty shell to explain the evolution of Intelligentsia’s third L.A. location.

Pasadena property owner Dan Melinkoff first started courting Doug Zell back in 2008 after he had repeated coffee epiphanies at Intelligentsia’s Sunset Junction coffeehouse, but it wasn’t until the 2009 Western Regional Barista Competition that talks became serious. They eventually reached an agreement on a genre-busting café.

“Since we had more room to play with, and the support of the city, we decided to expand the focus,” said Glanville. That means that Intelligentsia will offer beer and wine, and an expanded food program. He added, “Strategically for the company, this is a way to frame the coffee in a culinary light.”

The space dates to 1886 and previously housed Wok n’ Roll, which left after upstairs offices suffered extensive fire damage. For now, the space is little more than bare walls with a Michigan hickory floor, exposed iron columns and a glass facade that faces Colorado Boulevard, but Ana Henton and MASS Architecture will soon transform the 2000-square-foot ground-floor. According to Glanville, unlike Silver Lake or Venice, Pasadena will be “more like a traditional European café, but still with coffee as the superstar.”

When you enter from Colorado, you’ll find a 50-foot bar extending along the east wall, made from reclaimed Douglas fir trusses from the 19th Century. Expect a glass pastry case overflowing with options from Anisette Brasserie and Cake Monkey. Baristas will brew coffee on a lineup of drippers and siphons. Further back, expect a pair of Synesso espresso machines. In all, the space will accommodate 76 seats, including banquette seating and communal tables in back, and communal tables along west wall. Operable windows will face Colorado, which will help bring the outdoors inside. “It should be a bustling café environment,” said Glanville.

The downstairs basement will house a food prep area, a fridge, locker room and office. You’ll also find a “speakeasy coffee bar” for special events, with a slimmer menu and a different vibe. For some special occasions, you will have to know the password.

They’ll pour three wines at any given time, “the highest value possible.” Beer will consist of Belgian and English farmhouse ales in bottles, and West Coast IPAs on tap.

Intelligentsia will begin construction in a few weeks and hope to open in Pasadena over the summer. [Feast LA]

Intelligentsia Venice Day One [Food GPS]

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