The Equator Cafe, an Old Town Pasadena institution at the corner of Mills Place and Edwin Alley since 1993, will officially reopen as Edwin Mills by Equator on Jan. 22. What was once the city's go-to, all-age hangout with coffee and milkshakes, live music and art by local artists, is now a gastropub with a full bar serving specialty cocktails, a kitchen turning out sliders and potato-wrapped snapper, and salmon burgers.
The Equator Cafe, which transitioned from a coffeehouse to hookah lounge to Internet cafe, then Asian fusion restaurant and bar, at different points in time, featured a red banquet, groovy illustrations of the sun, giant Buddhas, colorful high-top tables, and velvet mix-and-match furniture. There was also a sign that read, "If it's too loud in here, go to Starbucks."
These have all been replaced by rustic wooden tables, Edison light bulbs and a wall featuring a mural of Pasadena.
"For 22 years we've gone through hard times, the first being a mom-and-pop coffeehouse with Starbucks and Coffee Bean coming in. Then people weren't as interested in the art, the open mic night, etc.," said Teddy B., who opened the original Equator Cafe in the '90s. "But now the coffee shop business is coming back to life, going back to open mic night — and I felt like it was time to make a change."
In addition to the revamped decor, chef Juan Carlos is making some changes to the menu. Edwin Mills will feature lamb, turkey and pork sliders; salmon burgers; an Edwin Mills burger topped with cheddar, BBQ sauce, fried onion rings, tomato, lettuce and a fried egg; macaroni and cheese with broccoli; crispy tuna tacos; shepherd's pie and more.
"I was tired of people wondering why it was called the Equator," said Teddy B. "People asked if it was an Ecuadorian restaurant. Or for the longest time, people would keep walking by because they just thought we served coffee."
But Teddy B. isn't changing everything. He said that due to popular demand he has kept the pad Thai on the menu (now called Oodles of Noodles) and the orange chicken (renamed Sweet Chicken). The restaurant also will continue to serve dim sum on weekends, with $10 bottomless mimosas, and its current happy hour programs, which feature drink and food specials and half-off wines.
The walls are outfitted with original artwork by Michael Hussar, a local artist that Teddy B. featured on the walls of the restaurant when it first opened. And you can still spot a couple of Buddhas.
Edwin Mills by Equator also will serve coffee cocktails, signature cocktails and milkshakes. The restaurant will celebrate its grand reopening, and the 22nd anniversary of Mills Place, with $3 food and drink specials on the Jan. 22.
Edwin Mills by Equator will be open from 3 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and will serve brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
22 Mills Place, Pasadena, (626) 564-8656, www.edwinmills.com.