The owners of Weird Wave Coffee are saying that protests by community activists, who have labeled them as gentrifiers, have been good for their business. Several media outlets have reported that the community appears to be split over the artisan coffee shop, with the Los Angeles Times reporting that Weird Wave saw its busiest day Saturday and that the shop was again vandalized this weekend, after a similar incident was reported last week.

Police tell the Times that they do not know who vandalized Weird Wave Coffee on either occasion. There were no organized protests this weekend by groups that have called for a boycott of the business.

The coffee shop on Cesar Chavez Avenue has been the target of anti-gentrification activists since it opened in mid June. Protesters say that specialty coffee shops make Boyle Heights more attractive to people with higher income, which in turn pushes rent and property prices up and leads to the displacement of the neighborhood’s poorest residents. The shop owners say they are partly owned by a Latino businessman and that they are helping the local economy, by purchasing from local vendors.

Weird Wave co-owner Jackson Defa told the Times that the recent media coverage of the shop is partly the reason why over 150 people came in on Saturday. The Times spoke with several customers, some of which said they understand the concerns about gentrification but that violence and vandalism were uncalled for. Others said that the café is better than a vacant lot and gives Boyle Heights residents a place to eat at rather than having to go somewhere like Silver Lake or Echo Park for a similar service.

Several customers of the coffee shop were also included in a opinion piece Saturday by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez titled “Protesting a coffee house over gentrification fears is silly — and misses the point of L.A.” The columnist called protesters –which include members of the collectives Defend Boyle Heights and B.H.A.A.A.D.–  “a bunch of hypocrites and cowards” and said “the protest has a couple of ridiculous aspects to it” because of the Latino owner and because a Starbucks in the neighborhood has not been met with any protests despite being a large, outside corporation.

Displacement caused by gentrification is real, López wrote, “but you can’t easily reverse the phenomenon, or have any real impact with a race-based rant against a small independent coffee shop that moves into a vacant storefront and is embraced — as far as I could tell — by merchants and neighbors.”

Neither story in the Times this weekend quoted an activist or a person involved in the protests.

On Saturday, the paper also published a number of letters from readers under the headline “‘White coffee’ protesters forget that Boyle Heights isn’t a Latino-only neighborhood” – all of them from people who live outside of the neighborhood and are opposed to the protests.

5 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Jaime Legaspi

    As a a Boyle Heights Native, there is no reason for these protesters to pick on any business owners that are helping our community, at this coffee shop the prices are reasonable and caters to our community. I speaking to a local non profit representative, she was against such coffee shop but yet she has never lived in the community but has decided to take a side..alot of history in our community, we have been welcomed here and we also welcome those that arrive…here…I’d the protesters would spend some productive time they would be business owners, but instead they complain…no room for such negativity…we need a better plan for community development and economic empowerment…so let’s continue to grow and make our community economically powerful and stop building so many so called affordable apartments that will turn into a hood hood eventually, let’s think about Homeownership and business opportunities to make our community restabilized from it’s last ten years of aprayment buildings thatplay no roll in making our neighborhood economically powerful…

  2. Avatar

    Esto es ridículo imagínense cómo reaccionaría la comunidad latina si se les negara el acceso para abrir un negocio en una comunidad anglo?

  3. Avatar

    I am a small business owner in Boyle Heights. I started with catering trucks in 1991 and over time obtained a leased restaurant. About two years ago, I bought my first commercial property since the restaurant that I’ve been leasing for the last 9 years the owner didn’t want to sell… I’m actually against this coffee shop, this is just the beginning for so many BH residents. I know this, because my commercial property cost an astronomical amount. I’m barely making it. I can only imagine how so many residents may feel. Gentrification is real, and it’s happening. I care about BH I care about the community and I would hope the community to stay united in protesting against gentrification.

    • Avatar
      Some Dude

      It makes sense that you are against this coffee shop as you have a financial incentive to reduce competition so you can charge higher prices and increase your profit. If you can find someone in the government to pass a law that benefits you over your competition then that would officially be crony capitalism. I’m not sure how you can reconcile those two ideas – that you care about the community and that the competition needs to be reduced so that you can make more money.

  4. Avatar

    Why don’t these activists be more productive in doing something about all the Pot Shops and Pot Growers Business in Boyle Heights .

    This is not what some long time Boyle Heights Residents/Homeowners want to see in their neighborhoods .
    Every since some of the voters passed the bill to legalize Marijuana these so called Pot Growers have saturated the community with all the Pot Shops in Boyle Heights.

    These Pot Growers and Pot Shops seem to set up their business into low income community’s and set up shops. Where they know very well the community will not fight to get them removed or relocate them elsewhere.


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