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Spilling the Beans

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sobriety just got a new home on the Sunset Strip--and a long-awaited one at that. The spot is called Coffee House, and it’s a picture of java perfection.

Before there was Dublin’s Irish Whisky Pub, Miyagi’s and Bar Marmont, promoter Brent Bolthouse conceived of a 24-hour coffee house in the heart of the Strip. He found the location--an antiquated two-story house across the street from the Chateau Marmont. And--get this--it came with a 24-car parking lot.

Trouble was . . . well, everything. Those who have never had the displeasure of creating a business on one of the most valuable stretches of commercial property in the world can’t imagine the pitfalls. Bolthouse, who began his quest in 1995, nearly lost everything. The young entrepreneur, who created the Opium Den (though he had a nasty split with his partners last year), finally got Coffee House open three weeks ago.

Yet the place feels as if it has existed for years. Perhaps it did, in some kind of fantasy land where you could drive up Sunset Boulevard on a lazy afternoon, spot a sign that simply reads, “Coffee House,” and pull into a free parking lot. Then you pick up your favorite magazine from the Swing Brothers Newsstand, located on the same property, and find a shady spot under a tree and lounge away the afternoon in this setting that’s a cross between a French country restaurant and an English cottage.

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This slice of paradise is exactly what Bolthouse and his partners--Christian Slater, Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz, mega-hairstylist Jonathan Antin and rock manager Andy Gould among them--have given us. It’s this casual atmosphere that undoubtedly draws actors Balthazar Getty, Toby Maguire and Leo (that’s right, DiCap’s there every day. And hey, paparazzi, why don’t you undo that pact with Satan and leave him alone for awhile?).

In its short life span, Coffee House already functions as a cozy meeting place for both night and day crowds. No matter that there’s no alcohol served in this genteel environment, Bolthouse can’t help but bring a rock ‘n’ roll vibe with him. First, the servers are hot Hollywood chicas (but of course), and the music playing throughout the venue comes from an array of 100 CDs, randomly selecting songs by such artists as Porno for Pyros, Van Morrison, Smashing Pumpkins and Led Zeppelin. Late at night, some of the city’s hottest club DJs come by for a little bit of fun, setting up their gear to spin an after-hours set.

The feeling of the place is warm and friendly, with the outdoor patio fenced off by tree branches and offering a lovely view of the Chateau. Inside, the space is separated into four distinct dining areas. A main dining room, a sofa-flanked fireplace, another couch-filled area where you order your food and coffee (attention, addicts: They’re serving San Francisco-based Graffeo’s oompah-oomphy blend) and a VIP room that functions as a celebrity retreat, but where there can also be private parties.

The menu, created by the Standard’s head chef Tommy Rivera, includes healthy fare like ahi tuna sandwiches and turkey burgers available for order at the counter. (At writing, the full menu was only offered from noon to 4 p.m. but beginning this weekend, there’s supposed to be food served round the clock.)

In its zen-like simplicity, Coffee House offers an ideal retreat from the Strip’s surrounding chaos. Just don’t be the last on the bus to check it out. Any second now, it’ll be one of the Strip’s main attractions.

BE THERE

Coffee House, 8226 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-7007. All ages, no cover. Open 24 hours (parking free during the day, $3 at night).


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