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They're just full of (coffee) beans

Newhall neighbors transition to business partners and open The Coffee House in Lyons Avenue mall

Posted: August 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Diana Zahreddine, co-owner of The Coffee House, prepares a customer's fruit parfait on Tuesday afternoon.

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When Chris David and Diana Zahreddine say they're neighbors, they mean it. A wall separates their Newhall backyards, where the two women will frequently sit and chat. They walk the neighborhoods together, which is how they noticed that one of the last non-chain coffee shops in Santa Clarita - The Town Grind - had closed some months ago.

That set them on the road from neighbors to business partners. The two are co-owners of The Coffee House, which opened July 1 at the corner of Lyons Avenue and Apple Street, in a space that housed the Town Grind for the better part of the past decade.

Nestled in a strip mall styled to look like Old West buildings, inside the shop has the feel of an urban bistro, with warm yellow walls, dark wood panels, soft leather couches and high, pub-style tables.

David said they spent "a good two months" cleaning the space before setting up shop.

Customers don't hustle in and out, heads down and cups chock full of caffeine in hand; they tend to linger, falling into conversation with each other or with David and Zahreddine.

"It's almost like ‘Cheers' without the alcohol," Zahreddine said.

David said mornings can tend to be just as busy as afternoons, when the duo dishes up fresh soups and salads.

Neither has a background in being a barista, but David said they got a crash course in the art of java during a recent coffee convention in Anaheim.

"We drank so much coffee. We were so wired," David quipped.

When it came time to choose what beans to brew, David and Zahreddine went with Alessandro Caffee, a Valencia-based roaster that primarily markets its beans throughout Los Angeles. In addition to Alessandro's espresso, The Coffee House brews the roaster's French roast.

In the coming year, the pair said, they want to establish themselves as a fixture and provide a welcoming environment.

Also on their list is being able to expand their hours. Presently, the shop is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed Sundays.

"We're not in this to pay the mortgage," David said, "(but) it has to be self-sufficient."

With the economy still in at a low point, she said there were some reservations, but ultimately they decided to go forward.

"Basically we said, ‘We're going to go for it,'" David said. "The economy can't be like this forever. And everybody drinks Starbucks."

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