It is this history that Dogtown Coffee seeks to preserve. Founded in 2012 by Assaf and Itay Raz and Itai Klein, all of whom lived nearby, the store itself is not a part of the “Dogtown” era. Instead, the shop is a place to house the voices of that era, which is why so many of the still-living Z-Boys have made their way here at one point or another over the course of seven years.
“We’re not Dogtown,” Raz says. “We were not here. We were not the ones creating the history. And we don’t pretend to be Dogtown. We are custodians, and we feel blessed to be that.”
That custodial work includes obtaining memorabilia, as the walls of Dogtown Coffee suggest. It means holding signings with some of the Z-Boys and promoting the works of artists who, through photographs or other disciplines, preserve the memories of that time.
Dogtown Coffee has a new connection with the Z-Boys’ history through their much-anticipated second location at the Fairmont Miramar, in the heart of Santa Monica. Back in 1978, the young men and women who reinvented the art of skateboarding came into this very neighborhood for what would become known as the Dog Bowl sessions. They were a little older and a lot more famous, but still Z-Boys in spirit. A teenager sick with cancer asked his family to empty out the swimming pool so his heroes could come skate, and so the story goes, the Z-Boys crossed the line from rundown Dogtown to upscale Santa Monica.
The Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica is also fitting place for Dogtown’s exclusive new outpost thanks to its location. Just like the original Dogtown Coffee, the beach is just a short distance away, and this influence can be seen on Dogtown’s menu. Hand-held wraps, sandwiches, and breakfast burritos are the stars here, all foods that can be taken down to and eaten at the beach. “You need to make the kind of food that if a surfer comes out of the water with a hole in the stomach and dripping water from his wetsuit, [it’s] the kind of food that they will buy and feel at home,” Raz says.
“That was the driving force,” Klein adds. “It comes along with that idea to create a fun, health conscious type of menu that’s not too fussy but it’s fresh.”
But perhaps more than any other reason, what does a coffee shop honoring a neighborhood’s punk-rock past have to do with a five-star, over 100-year-old resort?
“Matthew [Lehman, the hotel’s General Manager] told me in our first conversation, ‘I could have gone to Stumptown, I could have gone to all those [places],” Raz says, “[but] this is history meets history.”
Featured photo courtesy of Dogtown Coffee; third photo & homepage photo courtesy of Lisa Romerein.