CLIPBOARD : EVERYDAY FLOWERS & COFFEE HOUSE

Appearances can be deceiving.

The exterior may be typical Irvine cookie-cutter architecture, but the soul of Everyday Flowers & Coffee House is decidedly Greenwich Village--funky, but tasteful and understated.

The flower-shop-turn-coffee-bar has the ambience of an outdoor cafe in Madrid. The floors are done in large terra-cotta Mexican paver tiles, inlaid with small colorful ceramic tiles. Circular black wrought iron tables with glass tops and designs painted around the rim are scattered throughout the cafe side for weary shoppers and coffee aficionados and friends to gather and relax for a minute over steaming, frothing cups of coffee.

But it was the flower shop that came first. Owners Jim and Ellen Bodas thought they could build a better mousetrap, so they pulled together the financing from parents and their home, and opened their small business in September, 1983.

"I used to work in a flower shop," Ellen Bodas said. "And I knew that shop could have done nicer arrangements and have been a little more creative. My husband is an artist, and I thought between the two of us, we could open up our business."

Ellen worked full time in the flower shop, while Jim kept his regular job and worked in the shop part time. But by the end of their first year, the enterprise was doing so well, Jim was able to quit his job and work in the flower store full time. Now, while Ellen tends to customers and keeps the books, Jim, along with three other design artists, creates the distinctive flower arrangements that have become the shop's trademark.

"When we decided to open a flower shop, I had no experience in designing floral arrangements," Jim Bodas said. "But I put my background in painting and sculpture to work. Our arrangements don't go out as a florist would do them--they go out as an artist would do them. And I guess that's what makes us a little different."

Their business blossomed, and finally, four months ago, it sprouted

"The coffee shop was Jim's idea," Ellen Bodas said. "But people absolutely love it."

"Face it, in Irvine there isn't much to do socially," said her husband, laughing. "I thought it would be a great place for the locals and friends to go to relax, enjoy the camaraderie over a cup of coffee. Here you can have an espresso for $1, and enjoy some good entertainment or your friends."

The combination of a flower shop and coffee house has worked well. People drop by to relax over a cafe au lait, cappuccino, or a cafe latte for about $2. Fresh scones from the glass jars on the counter are a nice addition to a cup of steaming coffee. Some dine inside over a friendly game of checkers on handcrafted and decorated wooden boards. Others take their coffees and scones out to the patio to sit on the green director chairs and snack on their repast al fresco.

"That's been our best advertising--people sitting out there eating," said Ellen Bodas, gesturing toward the patio.

On Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday mornings, there is entertainment--usually folk singers, classical guitarists, harpists. Last week a guitar and banjo duo performed.

It's an interesting marriage of fragrances--coffee and flowers, and it makes Everyday Flowers & Coffee House anything but everyday.

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 6 a.m. to midnight; Saturday 7 a.m. to midnight; Sunday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Address: 14474 Culver Drive (at the corner of Walnut Avenue), Irvine

Telephone: (714) 559-4403

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