Mitch’s Java ‘N Jazz
Mitch’s Java ‘N Jazz was conceived in France while I was playing professional basketball just outside of Paris. Jazz Clubs and coffeehouses were abundant throughout Europe, especially in Paris, France. I often frequented these hotspots and truly enjoyed the experience. Upon returning to my hometown of Newhall California, I realized the Santa Clarita Valley would be the prefect place to combine top quality Jazz with great espresso; thus the birth of Mitch’s Java ‘n Jazz.
Whether it is our outside patio, our European style espresso bar, our country French living room, or our nightly live entertainment, there is something for everyone at Mitch’s Java ‘n Jazz. (business plan – 1992)
I graduated from San Diego State University in 1989 where I played basketball for the Aztecs. Although I received my bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication, I really was pursuing a professional basketball career. After being cut by the Atlanta Hawks, my dreams of being in the NBA quickly diverted to dreams of a long and prosperous European basketball career. Well after two years of playing pro ball in France, a regular trip to the doctors office would change my life, my dreams, and my career forever.
I was diagnosed with a heart condition known as Cardiomyopathy. It is an enlarged muscle around the heart that if pushed too hard, as in pro sports, could become fatal. The condition took the lives of basketball stars Hank Gathers (Loyola Marymount University – 1989), and Reggie Lewis (Boston Celtics – 19??), and I quickly determined that my basketball career was over. I was devastated. Not only did my dreams end, my career ended and my health was suspect. It was scary times and when I arrived back home to California in 1992, I did not have a plan. My dad needed some work done on his house so I helped him out and we spent a lot of time talking about options and ideas.
My dad owned a product placement firm (Unique Product Placement) in North Hollywood whereby his company would represent corporate brands in films and television shows. His company was the largest in the world and he was considering expansion in the mid-west and offered me a chance to launch his operations in Chicago. As good as that sounded, after being in France for almost two years, I really wanted to stay put in southern California. We talked about my experiences in France often and how I enjoyed the more social lifestyle compared to Americans who sit around and watch TV every night. We talked about the sidewalk cafés and the coffee. One such conversation lead to the idea to open up a coffeehouse.
“I believe that coffee & especially espresso cannot be truly enjoyed unless it is consumed in the right atmosphere. The warmth that coffee brings should exemplify the place it is enjoyed.”
I researched several independent coffeehouses from Hollywood to Montana. I looked at menus, décor, ambiance, employees, customers, the brewing equipment, cups, tables, etc… I visited these popular hotspots at all hours of the day and night. Although I saw some cool coffeehouses, I decided my place had to be different. I wanted it to look more like the old country French cafés I frequented in France. The walls and beams overhead were faux and antique textured. The floor was distressed hardwood. The bar was oak and everything looked perfectly old country French. The bathroom had fairly expensive wallpaper, a pillar sink, an antique mirror and a wall mounted chain-pull toilet. I used to get more compliments from the women about that bathroom. My mom told me that if I had nice bathrooms, my female customers especially would appreciate it.
I had a nice outdoor patio with a brick flower bed bordering us from the street. I added a huge awning over the side area for shade, which proved to be a major attraction. There also was an upstairs which had a fake fireplace, couches and several nooks for patrons to read, play chess or chat… while sipping their latte’s of course.
Divine Purpose: To lure people away from bars and into our non-alcoholic espresso bar.
General Purpose: To have the warmest possible atmosphere for people to enjoy good taste, good quality, and good company.
Specific Purpose: To serve the best cup of espresso/cappuccino in town, and to serve it with a “sidewalk café/country French living room” ambiance.
Mitch’s Java ‘n Jazz business plan – 1992
My first location preference was given to Starbucks, and I had to accept a location rich in charm but poor in foot traffic and even street traffic. My first landlord believed in me and trusted my business plan. He hoped my business was a success and thought it had potential to bring customers to the retail center which would be good for his other tenants. He was right as my business became a destination point and brought a lot of people and foot traffic to the shopping center. From day one I had customers lining up out the door.
Coming back soon…. #MainStreetNewhall