“The walls were a little bare, and we figured we could use a change of scenery,” Stevens said.
He brought in a local artist to show her work in the coffee shop, and it worked well, so he decided to make local artists permanent fixtures at Simply Coffee.
Local artist Glenda Smith, a graphic designer who worked for Lockheed Federal in the past, has had her work up in Stevens’ shop since early November.
Even though she agreed to have her art displayed there, she said she doesn’t see it as the best way to make money. Luckily, she said, she isn’t interested in selling her art.
“It’s good exposure, but it’s not a really good place to make money for art,” Smith said.
She’s sold one piece so far.
But Smith said she has been a fan of Simply Coffee since the original owner, Raffi Dilvisian, was running the place.
“I like it,” Smith said.
“It’s fun and casual. A place where people can gather. They’re friendly. You can bring your dog.”
The interior of Simply Coffee is shabby chic with worn, pastel colors and craftsman country chairs. The main table in the room is a large, old door, painted periwinkle blue with a thin plate of glass over it.
Next door is an antiques shop.
Most of Stevens’ customers are locals like Smith, who lives right up the street from Simply Coffee and sometimes walks her dog down for a biscuit and bruschetta.
Businesspeople in the area, like Alcid Gosselin, owner of Alcid Hair Design on North Hollywood Way, also frequent the coffee shop.
“I like it because it was in the neighborhood,” Gosselin said.
“It’s a very friendly, cordial place where people could go for more intimate services. . . . It just gave a very comfortable, homey feel. So it’s kept that small-town flavor.”
Stevens said he hopes to maintain that coziness of the shop and also add a little something extra to the mix with the art available for purchase.
He’s looking for more artists to rotate into the shop and is determined to keep them local.
“As long as I can find an artist, I’ll keep doing it,” he said.
“But I’d like to keep things sort of tightly knit with the community.”