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Highland Cafe Opens on York Boulevard

Café hopes to be friendliest in town.

With new bars, restaurants and sandwich shops sprouting up across Highland Park, Highland Café owner Arnie Miller has a simple business plan to set his establishment apart.

"We want to be the friendliest cafe in the Highland Park," Miller said on Tuesday afternoon.

Opened since Friday, the Highland Cafe has been offering a limited menu and focusing on service, Miller said.

Among the breakfast items featured on the menu as of Tuesday were vegetarian omelettes, chilaquiles rojo and waffles, as well as variety of coffee drinks including Americanos, Cappuccinos, lattes, Macchiatos, Mochas and Espressos. The drinks are all priced in the $2 to $4 range.

Miller said though he had hoped to retain the former El Chapin chef, who was responsible for the restaurant's Guatemalan fare, he had to bring on new staff.

"I've got a new baker and new chef who are doing all the cooking," Miller said.

The coffee beans are being provided by independent Downtown roasters Damn Handsome.

Miller said he hopes to begin offering lunch items by the end of the week, as the Highland Café will be open from 7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

"We're just trying to get better every day," Miller said. "A month from now you'll really see us operating like a well oiled coffee shop. The main thing I'm focusing on right now is making sure we're consistent."

A New Look

First opened by the Palacios family on York Boulevard in 2001, and operating at its current location since 2004, the Former El Chapin location has undergone a complete makeover at the hands of Miller and co-owners Alfonso Arellano and Miriam Albundis. 

"We wanted to go for an industrial style," explained Miller.

Included in the new look are an exposed brick wall, hand-made tables and counters and fixtures reclaimed from neighborhood yard sales.

"People seem to really like the look," Miller said.

The Highland Café also has a brand new copper leaf signed made by one of Miller's artist friends.

It reads: Highland Café: Los Angeles.

"I definitely wanted to make sure we got that 'Los Angeles' in there," said Miller, who grew up in Glassell Park and attended

The café will also offer outdoor seating and free wi-fi; Miller hopes it will be a place where folks will feel comfortable sipping a coffee and paging through a book.

Occidential College students will be offered a 10-percent discount.

Arellano said the Highland Café's owners are trying to make the location as welcoming as possible, and so far, the the neighborhood has responded well.

"So far, the community has been really supportive," he said.

Jason April 04, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Looks great! I love seeing the growth and change in Highland Park these days.
Tom Allen April 05, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Best of luck. Surely will be there to check it out!
Christopher Watt April 06, 2012 at 04:42 PM
You're in good company in this section of hp! It's eye catching and has the warmth and friendliness the neighborhood exudes. With the monthly 2nd Saturday event right around the corner, you may opt to stay open later that day to attract new customers! I live up the street so count me in as being one. The place looks GREAT!
Joe Walker April 07, 2012 at 02:57 PM
My "idol" the late restaurant critic Elmer Dills had a steadfast rule to never review a restaurant until it had been open for at lease six months. I will remember that and be extra gentle to the guys at this place when I visit them soon. Hooray for believing in your neighborhood--I will gladly spend money there and skip Carrow's or Denny's!
Joe Walker April 08, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Well, I brought my daughter and elderly aunt, an 80 year old lifelong resident of Northeast LA, who does not embrace change or new ideas easily. I warned her that the place was brand new, and that the service might be shaky. She was sort of intrigued and skeptical of the industrial design, but after being told this is the new cool style, she liked it. The atmosphere was great, the food awesome. Sure, there were some bumps in the service, but THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS with new places. We had a funny incident with my leftovers getting lost, but the staff handled it so well that I felt even more of a booster. I will be back, and will bring more.
ChickenBoyFan April 08, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I am an avid fan of any new traditional breakfast joint, although I would love to have seen booths installed. Slipping into a booth is so retro and cozy. Ah-h-h yes, what I would give for a really good cup of Damn Handsome, poached eggs,bacon, hashies, and toast, whilst occupying my own little private Idaho, with the morning paper(while it still exists). That would be perfection, for ole Chicken Boy Fan....
Joe Walker April 08, 2012 at 03:11 PM
ChickenBoy...not sure if you actually visited the restaurant or if you are just reflecting. They actually did not do poached eggs yet at the Highland Cafe', but I'm sure they will eventually.

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