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Inside Quentin Tarantino’s cafe, Pam’s Coffy: retro vibes at the Vista Theater

Stephanie Breijo – Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Los Angeles is home to a bevy of coffee shops, but only one is owned by Quentin Tarantino.

The director’s highly anticipated cafe recently opened adjacent to the newly relaunched Vista Theater, purchased by Tarantino in 2021, and now Pam’s Coffy is serving custom-roasted coffee and throwback vibes daily in Los Feliz.

The project has been in the works for roughly five years. At first the “Pulp Fiction” and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” director considered opening a video rental store in the former ice cream parlor. Instead he decided to build a casual, coffee-fueled gathering place for creatives to lounge and network.

The theater, which reopened in November with the mission of screening only film prints of movies — no digital — also serves food and beverages curated by Tarantino, including White Castle sliders and plastic cups of Hitching Post Wines. The cafe’s offerings are much more robust, and soon will expand with dinner items.

Tarantino could not be reached for comment, but “It’s all Quentin,” said Mayra Garcia, a representative of Pam’s Coffy. “He has a very hands-on approach. I mean, this was always a dream of his. … What we serve when it comes down to everything, it’s all to his liking.”

While renovating the space, the team found an alcove under a stairwell, which Tarantino wanted to use as a VHS booth; the intimate compartment plays tapes from Tarantino’s own collection, including supercuts of various TV shows and musical performances he’s recorded to tape. Some of his own collectibles — figurines, lunchboxes and other retro knickknacks — also are found in the coffee shop.

“He wanted to make it very casual, and make it a community gathering spot for people who want to be writers and actors,” Garcia said. “He wants people to go enjoy the Wi-Fi, sit down and meet other writers, people in the industry. He wants it to feel communal and welcoming at the same time. He just wanted to give it back to the community, and also give back to essentially his fascination for Black exploitation films and Pam Grier.”

Credited with breaking boundaries in Black cinema and widely heralded as one of the 1970s’ foxiest femme fatales, Grier starred in a range of action films, including “Coffy,” “Foxy Brown,” “The Big Doll House” and, in 1997, Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.”

Tarantino, who also owns the New Beverly Cinema, pays homage to Grier not only in the cafe’s name, merch and iconography but also its decor: Original posters from the star’s career are framed around the space, while groovy, colorful murals and throwback, playable tabletop games such as dominoes help complete the ’70s aesthetic.

The drip coffee found in the cafe is custom-roasted for Tarantino by Pasadena’s Jones Coffee Roasters, which has for years supplied Tarantino with butterscotch- and vanilla-flavored beans that he uses at home in a drip coffee maker. When it came time to open his cafe, the director wanted to not only serve these custom roasts in this fashion but also sell them by the bag. They’re brewed here by the potful, along with Bold Black Mamba — a nod to “Kill Bill” — plus cold brew and sweetened coffee concoctions such as lavender vanilla, raspberry mocha and butterscotch caramel.

He chose to source the cafe’s baked goods from Cake Monkey Bakery, which in addition to items like bacon cheddar scones and vegan muffins specializes in “retro snack treats,” all on offer at Pam’s. Look for classic pies and cakes by the slice, plus brown sugar “pop pies,” HoHos-inspired El Rollos, Snowball-leaning Moguls and a black-and-white “cakewich” reminiscent of a Hostess Cupcake.

The director’s love of throwback food continued with the ample cereal selection, which is available by the bowl in options such as peanut butter, berries and, Tarantino’s favorite, Cap’n Crunch.

In the coming weeks the team plans later hours and dinner items such as taquitos and mac and cheese bites, as well as wine and beer service, with items available to bring into the theater for screenings. For diehard fans, keep an eye out for Tarantino’s movie memorabilia throughout the space — and the director himself.

“It’s the type of spot that he wants to hang out in,” Garcia said. “He’s in there. He’ll sit in the corner and he’ll just take it all in and read his book. He’s loving it.”

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Pam’s Coffy is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with hours planned to eventually expand to 7 p.m. 4473 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, instagram.com/pamscoffy

©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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