Don Francisco's Coffee Casa Cubana

Client / F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc

Area / Historic Core, Downtown Los Angeles

Status / Complete

Type / Restaurant/Bar

The Los Angeles-based Don Francisco’s Coffee has a history dating to 1870s Cuba, and today is run by the Gaviña family, descendants of the founders. When they asked us to create Don Francisco’s first-ever brick and mortar café, we looked for ways to honor the family’s history while also preparing the company for future growth.

Don Francisco's Coffee Casa Cubana

The Los Angeles-based Don Francisco’s Coffee has a history dating to 1870s Cuba, and today is run by the Gaviña family, descendants of the founders. When they asked us to create Don Francisco’s first-ever brick and mortar café, we looked for ways to honor the family’s history while also preparing the company for future growth.

Owner / F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc

Location / Historic Core, Downtown Los Angeles

Status / Complete

Type / Restaurant/Bar

The Los Angeles-based Don Francisco’s Coffee has a history dating to 1870s Cuba, and today is run by the Gaviña family, descendants of the founders. When they asked us to create Don Francisco’s first-ever brick and mortar café, we looked for ways to honor the family’s history while also preparing the company for future growth.

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Context

The 2,100 sf space is one of many new businesses along a covered shopping lane in downtown’s Spring Arcade Building, from 1924. Within the main arcade, custom cement-tile tables maximize a narrow patio space, while the expansive glazing shows off interior elements like a high-end roaster, striking tile work, brass fixtures and tabletops, and plenty of plant life.

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Design

The clients wanted the space to feel as if visitors were stepping into right into the Gaviña family home.

To that end, we were able to incorporate their long-running collection of historic photos and coffee-production equipment into the project. Part of the challenge was designing seating for a space whose function went beyond a simple coffee shop. This had to be a go-to venue for all meals. We created custom furniture and flexible arrangements for different seating types to be used as workspaces, dining spaces, or a cozy hangouts for a drink or a date. Varied seating types facilitate service for breakfast, lunch and dinner; coffee products are sold atop custom brass and beechwood shelving by Base Collaborative. The restrooms’ wallpaper is custom-made from vintage Cuban stamps. The overall effect is of a breezy, relaxed atmosphere, as if you'd visited Havana for coffee and a sandwich.

For exterior improvements in the arcade hall itself, we worked within the historic building’s parameters. We drew upon the building owner’s standard options for signage, railings and storefront. The interior’s only existing historic fabric was at an interior archway with decorative molding.

Completed project photography by Emi Kiwataki.