Photos by Asia Morris.
‘Tis the season for Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Oh wait, how about not? Why be basic when you can walk a few extra blocks, ride a few extra minutes or drive a few extra miles to pick up a Cold Brew Cardamom Spice Latte, one of Wide Eyes Open Palms’ (WEOP) signature drinks, at none other than at one of the very few Korean food joints in Long Beach?
WEOP, the now-two-year-old pop-up dream of partners in life and business, Angie Evans and Kat McIver, has set up shop at Sura Korean BBQ & Tofu House. Claire Kim, who has owned Sura since 2011, knew McIver and Evans as loyal and frequent customers, but when she found out about the duo’s blooming business, an idea took hold. The three had an animated discussion, which led to several meetings with Kim and her husband, then a six-week trial of Wide Eyes Open Palms occupying the restaurant’s underutilized (in the morning when Sura is closed) third room.
“It’s really cool because coffee and Korean food and cold brew… who thinks of that?” Kim said. “It’s a great opportunity for both of us to get exposure, especially because Atlantic, it’s not a really [busy] street.”
And WEOP had been looking for a legitimate space in Long Beach to work with for quite a while, however nothing had truly felt right until they’d connected with Sura. The pop-up holds a space at the Bixby Park Farmers Market on Tuesdays as well as at the Alamitos Bay Farmers Market on Sundays. The two have had stints at Rose Park Roasters, MADE in Long Beach and now Sura, which occupies their Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30AM to 2:00PM.
McIver, who used to live in Koreatown in LA, says she feels like pop-up residencies in established businesses (and pop-ups in general) are much more common there, so at first, WEOP had some difficulty finding the perfect space and willing business owner. However, patience played its role in the search.
“We want people who understand what this is about,” said McIver. “Us helping to build their business and then them, obviously, giving us the huge gift of allowing us to take over their space.”
The pop-up multi-roaster coffee shop has been in residence since November 5, and so far everything seems to be going well. WEOP will remain at Sura for four more weeks up until the week before Christmas, when they’ll have another meeting with Kim to check in. The two businesses intentionally formed a contract that would allow them to assess their status on a consistent basis.
“It’s still a little bit up in the air,” said McIver. “We’re going to have another meeting with them, talk about the terms, see how we’re all feeling. Hopefully we’ll be doing some more time here.”
And we absolutely hope they will, too. Included on the menu are all of their regular items, including their hot and cold brew coffee (ask Evans about the origin of the day) a variety of teas and McIver’s freshly baked seasonal pastries. Highly recommended is the Persimmon scone, a masterfully made moist morsel that will satisfy your morning sweet tooth upon first bite.
You’ll have to ask for a slice of the Rhubarb Pie as well, if not to eat at the moment, then to eat later in the afternoon when you hit that mid-day slump. It’s a more-tart-than-sweet baked good that will blow your mind and leave you craving the whole darn pie itself.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to fuel-up fruitfully and get a ton of work done, the space has free WiFi and a gently sunlit room in the morning. Start your day with McIver’s Sweet Fall Toast with goat cheese, pomegranate seeds and walnuts, finished with a drizzled-on dose of pomegranate molasses. It’s filling and sweetly packs a punch as each pomegranate seed bursts in your mouth with each bite.
“I basically just have a simple formula that I find whatever fruit I like the most, whatever feels seasonal at the farmer's market and then I make the seasonal sweet toast out of it,” she said.
And if the Sweet Fall Toast is a bit too adventurous, go with this staple menu item, Simple Egg + Toast. It’s another go-to starter for your morning, with a few nutritious greens on the side. On Thursday, the greens included yellow wax beans, radishes and avocado, while a soft boiled egg and a side of basil spinach pesto sat idly by waiting to be eaten with the softest, tastiest pieces of toast you’ve ever consumed.
Something to sip your savory breakfast or brunch down with is the Cardamom Spice Latte. It’s a truly unique beverage and especially refreshing on an abnormally warm fall day, which, in Southern California we seem to experience way too often.
“It’s feeling good, at this time,” said Evans thoughtfully. “That kind of spice... and even though it’s an iced drink, well, luckily we live in Long Beach.”
As WEOP celebrates its two-year anniversary, what fantastic timing for Evans and McIver to have found a solid space to sell their edible wares. This is WEOP’s third week and seventh day in the space, and overall, the two have garnered an overwhelmingly positive response.
“I think we’re still building it and getting in a rhythm, but I think in general, [Sura’s] customers when they come in for lunch and they have the opportunity to get a beverage or get a pastry from us, they think it’s great,” said McIver. “And that’s exactly what we always build from, like what would I want? That’s totally what I would want, to have a coffee and then have a beer and some tofu soup.”
“It's all aiming toward [having our own space] but also enjoying it while we’re here,” said Evans. “I love the farmer’s market, the people that we’ve connected with… It’s all part of the process.”
Sura Korean BBQ & Tofu House and WEOP's Pop-Up is located at 621 Atlantic Avenue.