Lauren Lilly, owner of Yellow 108, looks out onto Long Beach Blvd. from her future downtown location. Photos by Brian Addison.
Lauren Lilly, owner of Yellow 108, stands at the corner of 3rd and Long Beach Blvd., exuding the definition of badass: perfectly finished leather boots, rolled up craft denim, sunglasses from a bygone era yet perfectly contemporary, and a hat that would make Pharrell jealous.
Facing 237 Long Beach Blvd., a building from 1910 that was originally apartments, Lauren speaks with excitement: “As we started sandblasting the front, all this beautiful brick was revealed—and it was yellow. It’s like it was serendipitous.”
If anyone has been questioning the momentum behind Downtown Long Beach’s renaissance, they only need to look as far as the corner of Long Beach Blvd. and 3rd, as Yellow 108—along with Heartbreak Coffee, Beachwood Brewery for a special side project called The Blendery that is dedicated to Belgian beers, and another business we can’t quite yet tell you about but will a bit later—move into the aforementioned building. And Lauren will be bringing not just her brand but an entirely new communal space that will alter the way downtowners and visitors interact with the city.
The lifestyle brand, whose current home at 3rd and Cerritos next to Lord Windsor has proved too small, exudes a confident, Long Beach-y attitude that promotes biking and alternative transit, adores fashion that eschews any specific style outside of cool, and encourages community through interconnecting small businesses.
“I was driving up Long Beach Boulevard and the sun was setting through the front window and it hit me,” Lauren said. “The exposed brick. Everything. I had to have it. And I wanted to bring other businesses with me on this adventure.”
Contacting real estate agent Noel Aguirre and owner Graham Gill, Lauren insisted that she be offered the longest lease possible while working with the pair intimately on the design. Hiring adaptive-reuse guru Jan van Dijs (who is currently making the final touches on the gorgeous restoration of the Psychic Temple building), Lauren and her crew have an innovative approach for not just the building she’ll be sharing with craft caffeine gurus Heartbreak Coffee, but the cohort of brick buildings that share the block.
Yellow 108 will occupy the back part of 237 Long Beach Blvd.—where it was discovered during renovation that an unknown bomb shelter sat beneath, providing the clothing purveyor even additional storage space—while Heartbreak’s brick-and-mortar takes the front of the house. Heartbreak will also have seven feet of sidewalk space for outdoor sipping and munching. Upstairs, a completely accessible leasing space for whatever you need—that is, except on the four days a week when Lauren plans on having yoga.
Furthermore, the alleys and courtyard the buildings share will be open to the public to encourage inter-mingling not just between businesses but with one another. Lauren even hopes to bring Whole Foods into the courtyard once a week to give Downtown an organic foods pop-up annex.
“Farmers markets, movies, music—the space, outside and upstairs, is really for anything,” Lauren said, “We’re a lifestyle brand that loves to create partnerships with other brands and locals and creators. The space is for the community, not a mass market.”
With Beachwood occupying the northern building neighboring them and a soon-to-be-announced clothing purveyor to occupy another space, this corner is sure to be a bustling, interweaving urban mecca of food, coffee, beer, and style too badass for OC and too chill for LA.
Should everything goes as planned—“It honestly all depends on the City and the permit/inspection process to be honest,” Lauren noted—they will be moving product in August and ready for business come September.
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