Stage Left: My So-Called Hangout

Brand Boulevard in Downtown Glendale is the perfect setting for a casual stroll, hanging out with friends, window shopping or a low-key date. The Stage Left Coffeehouse, next to the Alex Theatre, draws in a crowd with its huge picture windows displaying the action inside.

THE SCENE: Entertainment ranges from live bands to comedy improv. Tuesday is open performance art night, and Thursday is for percussion jams. The large, airy room has simple, long wooden tables and stools perfect for inviting conversations. Tables and chairs are arranged intimately around the stage and outside. No moldy antique furniture here. A display case in back is filled with jewelry and ceramics for sale, and the walls are covered with a monthly art exhibit--this time featuring the off-hours work of Fox TV animators. Along with coffee, Stage Left serves a variety of soups, sandwiches, salads and pastries.

THE CROWD: Resembling a scene from ABC's canceled "My So-Called Life," high school kids in the latest trends (backpack purses, baby tees) and rebellious fads (nose rings, pink-streaked hair) paraded outside. Inside, the teen-agers and early twentysomethings gossiped in clusters, enjoying the no-alcohol atmosphere and supporting the band.

THE MUSIC: Entropy, recent Immaculate Heart High School graduates, performed for the early-evening crowd. Playing original pop material and covers from their idols, The Go-Gos and U2, this young, four-member all-girl band, while still green, seemed to charm the crowd. Singer Mary Ellen McCormick looked like a young Brooke Shields, and her ethereal vocals were the band's strength.

THE GOOD: More spacious than most coffeehouses, the furniture doesn't take up every inch and is strategically placed for breathing room and comfort.

THE BAD: The club draws a young crowd. Older patrons may not be comfortable sipping cappuccino next to high school girls with purple hair and pierced eyebrows.

THE WORD: Entropy singer Mary Ellen McCormick, referring to the no-alcohol environment, on why she enjoys playing Stage Left: "I like it because all my friends can come here."

Stage Left Coffeehouse, 208 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to midnight Tuesday to Saturday. (818) 551-9791.

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