Liberation Café hosts birthday celebration and in-person dining after two years of pandemic restrictions

By Susan Payne

Two years after opening, the plastic partitions that separated employees and customers inside the Liberation Coffee House have come down.

For its second anniversary, the cafe — located on the Anita May Rosenstein campus of the Los Angeles LGBT Center — is finally letting customers experience the cafe’s community-focused offerings.

“It’s been two long years with the pandemic,” said Nick Panepinto, the Center’s director of training and culinary operations. “So we’re excited now that we can finally host community events and welcome everyone to space.”

According to LGBT News Now, students in the Center’s culinary arts program are employed in the cafe to prepare for employment in the restaurant and hospitality industries.

Visitors to the cafe were offered free food surrounded by party decorations on its birthday and live music played throughout the afternoon.

“The space is really designed to be functional for different types of things, not just coffee, but we haven’t had that experience here yet,” Panepinto said.

“I love the community we’ve built throughout the pandemic,” cafe manager Erin Muscatelli said. “I am happy that we have been able to stay open with the support of the Center and thanks to the local community who keep coming back.

One client, Samantha Stephans, told LGBT News Now she keeps coming back because of the connections she has made with staff and the community.

“Honestly, it’s really people,” Stephans said. “But also coffee. They really make amazing coffee.

“That’s really what we decided to do,” Panepinto said. “We have lots of regular members of the local business and apartment community [in the area]. They come every day and really made it feel like home.

Panepinto said a resident of the accommodations near the Center expressed his gratitude for the coffee during a difficult time.

“He wrote us a note that said, ‘This cafe got me through the pandemic because it was the only place I felt like I had a social connection. This is what we are most proud of. »

Liberation Coffee House, 6725 Santa Monica Blvd., is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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