Echo Park cafe watch: Stories and Hearts & Fives

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Two new cafes are opening on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. The first, Stories, is also a general interest bookstore, and is set to officially open this Saturday. (However, the shop celebrated an opening party last Saturday night, and you’ll likely find its doors open tomorrow.) The second, Hearts & Fives, is also a gallery with a built-in film production boutique and a live performance space, and will open in early December.

Stories is co-owned by Echo booker Liz Garo who dished about the cafe’s culinary plans via e-mail, (noting that Mike Demilo, sous chef for Cafe Stella and Canele, is the menu consultant). In the beginning the cafe, which is located in the back of the bookstore in what was formerly Sea Level records, will just serve baked goods and coffee. The organic coffee is from Raven’s Brew in Washington and the pastries (brownies, blondies, cookies and peanut butter-filled cupcakes) are from Sweeties. All bread, croissants and danishes will come from Breadbar, and the bagels from Brooklyn Bagels.


When the menu is unveiled it will be very simple, says Garo, ‘Salads, sandwiches, soups and easy ‘hand-to-mouth’ plates including a hummus, feta cheese, roasted pepper platter; also cheese, salami and grapes; and another [platter] with crostinis, tomato, mozzarella, and basil.’

Garo is Armenian and her business partner is from Chile, so she says ‘we both wanted to take a nod to our cultural background.’ To that end Stories will serve herb couscous, an Armenian pizza called lahmajune and empanadas.

As an added bonus Stories has converted the rough-and-tumble dirt parking lot behind the shop into a lovely outdoor patio with flowers and a few shaded tables.

Hearts & Fives took over the space that the short-lived Cafe Mariposa occupied. The new owners, aided by a group of young artists and musicians, have worked to refine the gallery space next to the small cafe and build a stage for live performances in the large back yard. Right now there is no menu set in stone by we’re told that the cafe will serve affordable sandwiches and coffee to ‘early risers and night owls alike,’ and will aim to stay open after the bars close. Surely that’s something that hungry revelers leaving the Short Stop and Little Joy can get behind.

Stories, 1716 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 413-3733; Hearts & Fives, 1549 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.

-- Jessica Gelt

Top: Photo of Stories’ opening party courtesy of Liz Garo.

Bottom: Photo of the back patio at Hearts & Fives courtesy of Emily Wilder.

Full disclosure: Hearts & Fives co-owner Emily Wilder and I went to college together.