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Success – My Place Cafe

Special Needs teacher turns coffee shop owner

It was a proud day in 2019 for LaTanya Smith. She had the keys to the coffee shop she’d just bought. MyPlace Café in Pasadena had a long history and many loyal patrons. For LaTanya, this was her retirement investment, and she was looking forward to making the café her own.

After a career teaching special needs children, LaTanya had decided to spend the last three years of her tenure starting a business on the side—one she could grow and develop and would bring her some income. A lucky chance connected her to the owner, and she became a regular visitor and ultimately got into conversations about buying the café.


When she walked in on that first day as an owner, it was just as she remembered it from prior visits—a quirky, eclectic space with art on the walls and a patio outside with tables and chairs sheltered from the California sun. It had an ample space upstairs, which could be rented out for group meals, music, poetry sessions, and business meetings.


But the shoe was about to drop. Hint: She bought the café in December 2019. Yes, December 2019. COVID.


Busy getting the place ready to reopen, and before she had even brewed her first cup of coffee, LaTanya had to shutter the café and negotiate with the landlord about deferring the rent. It wasn’t until xx months later that she got back in and back to business. Steadily, the customers returned, dealing with all the COVID restrictions, eventually reaching normality by the end of 2022. People loved the coffee, the food, the music on Sundays, and LaTanya herself. Although everyday business issues cropped up occasionally, the café became steadily more successful and profitable.


Early in 2022, the building, together with the rest of the pretty strip mall, was purchased by a new landlord. It wasn’t long until the end of the lease… What do you think happened next.


Part 2 (video) coming shortly.

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