Assume You’ve Been Hired by the Los Angeles Times
And my student’s blog post — The Huntington’s Cafe 1919
In my AP Macroeconomics course this past semester, I challenged my students.
“Assume,” I said, “that you have been hired by the Los Angeles Times to interview the owner of a super cool Los Angeles area small business that the residents of our community might be interested in learning about; then produce a blog post describing what you learned from that interview.”
One of my students, Jinyang Ma, readily accepted my challenge and after several drafts produced the well-worded blog post appearing below.
The Huntington’s Cafe 1919
My name is Jinyang Ma and I am a San Marino High School senior currently enrolled in Mr. Peter Paccone’s fall, 2021 AP Macroeconomics class.
At the start of the semester, Mr. Paccone challenged us to “interview the owner of a super cool Los Angeles area small business that the residents of San Marino might be interested in learning about.”
I accepted the challenge, choosing to interview “the owner” of Cafe 1919 (with this cafe located on the grounds of one of the best-kept secrets in Los Angeles, the beautiful and internationally acclaimed Huntington Gardens.)
When unable to locate the owner’s name and contact information, I emailed Kella Tyson, the Director of Operations for the Bon Appétit Management Company (the company that “operates” Cafe 1919)
Below, the questions I asked Ms. Tyson and her answers.
In a sentence or two, how would you describe Cafe 1919?
Café 1919 is an on-site food hall, with lovely indoor and outdoor seating, that offers to-go sandwiches, salads, and a wide variety of from-scratch dishes, creatively made by our chefs. Click here to find out daily menus. The cafe also offers a full-service bar.
When did Cafe 1919 first open its doors?
How did the name Cafe 1919 come about?
The Café 1919 was named as a nod to the year 1919, when Henry Huntington signed a trust document that transformed his private estate into a public institution. This institution went on to become the Huntington that we know and love today.
What has been one of the cafe’s biggest challenges
Staffing is occasionally a challenge, mostly due to the traffic many employees in Los Angeles are faced with when commuting to the Huntington.
What has been one of the cafe’s biggest successes?
Our biggest pre-COVID successes have been the large public events that we (Bon Appétit) have done with the Huntington. In years past we have held garden parties and even a Halloween-themed catered dinner called Strange Science.
We work hard to make the dining experience a reflection of the vision and values of the Huntington’s vision and values.
How has Cafe 1919 changed during Covid?
With the onset of COVID-19, we implemented a series of rigorous health and safety precautions. We also changed the way we provide food to guests, requiring social distancing at 1919 café and, for a time, offering only pre-packaged meals.
COVID-19’s impact on supply chains nationwide has also meant that we have relied even more heavily on the local farmers and makers we have always sourced from. Through this crisis, we have been proud to bolster our local food system by working with these close partners.
What are some of your fondest memories related to your Cafe 1919?
My fondest memory from working at the Huntington was when our team returned after the venue and café closures due to COVID-19. While we couldn’t hug or high five due to social distancing precautions, the feeling in the air was electric. Without the team we have here we wouldn’t have this business and I’m so grateful for all of them.
How do most people find out about your Cafe 1919? Paid advertising or word-of-mouth?
We don’t pay for advertising and instead rely on the Huntington’s renown as a destination for people across the country and around the world.
Within the next year or two, are you planning to change Cafe 1919 in any significant way?
No. We are not planning to change the cafe in any significant way. However, the nearby Rose Garden Tea Room is currently being renovated and will reopen in the winter of 2022. We’re incredibly excited to offer guests visiting the soon-to-be-reopened Tea Room an elegant and memorable experience inspired by the tradition of English tea service with a distinctive California twist. Click here to learn more about that renovation.
You’re the Director of Operations for the Bon Appétit Management Company. How do you describe the company to others?
The Bon Appétit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company based in Redwood City, CA that operates cafés in 33 states for corporations, universities, and cultural institutions, including The Huntington, Twitter, Chase Center (home of the Golden State Warriors), Oracle Park (home of the San Francisco Giants), Case Western Reserve University, and many others.
I also like to describe the company as a recognized industry leader in environmentally and socially responsible practices, with awards from organizations including the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, Acterra, James Beard Foundation, and many others.
Any great words of advice for SMHS students wanting to one day follow in your footsteps?
If you’re interested in getting into the food and beverage industry, I would advise you to apply to a position with a company you know you’d love to work for, regardless of what that starting position is at first. I knew I wanted to work for Bon Appetit because of the company’s values and reputation for quality food, so I started with them as a part-time Catering Attendant. It has been so rewarding to work my way up through every aspect of the business to where I am today.
Is there anything else that you would like to say that you haven’t yet said?
We hope that folks reading this article will consider visiting us at the Huntington!
On Friday, December 10, 2021, after having written what appears above, I “borrowed” my brother's bicycle and rode to the Huntington. I wanted to see the Cafe for myself, take a few pictures, and thank Ms. Kella Tyson personally for having helped me with this project.
Going to the Cafe was definitely an eye-opener. What a top-notch cafe it is.
My school’s Animation and Media Arts teacher, Ms. Robbin Rae McCulloch, thinks the same.
“The 1919 Cafe is a lovely place to gather with colleagues, friends, or to sit alone. The space is accommodating for various needs; indoor and outdoor seating, many food and beverage offerings. What I appreciate most is the noise volume. Low enough so that anyone can sit and read or study, but still allowing others to feel comfortable talking in small groups.”
One of my school’s Physics teachers, Ms. Russel Silver, also speaks highly of the Cafe.
The 1919 Cafe is a terrific place to meet a friend, read a book, or just relax. It is very spacious, offers a variety of food and drink, and could not be in a more beautiful location. I have met there several times with colleagues, and we always enjoy ourselves.