Step into Montrose’s new La La Land Kind Café and you’ll likely be greeted with a loud welcome of cheers and a deluge of personalized compliments from a group of smiling faces.
“I love your hair!”
“Your outfit is gorgeous! »
And when you finally get your coffee or tea, a stranger will also send you off with this reminder: “We love you”.
For people unfamiliar with the culture, it can be confusing. For those who fear compliments, exotic. (A man sits outside after grabbing his drink asking a puzzled friend “Are they on drugs?”). But in La La Land, it’s normal.
The cafe, which has nearly 6 million followers on TikTok alone, has built a reputation for friendliness in its outposts in California and Texas, and it offers a new opportunity to experience the warm fuzzies of its second location. in Houston, as it should be in Montrose, an area of the city known for its colorful layout and variety of dining options.
Although the grand opening takes place on Saturday, August 20, this extremely cheerful Montrose Collective café has already welcomed guests this week with its enthusiastic greetings, coffees, chia and oatmeal puddings and strawberry toast. Here, you’ll find a variety of chilled milks in dispensers, ready to go with iced coffees and teas, like its Perfect Latte, made with espresso, milk and a “secret sauce”; and the Lavender Bloom, which adds hints of vanilla syrup and purple lavender to an iced coffee or matcha.
The menu focuses on breakfast favourites, including a range of fine toasts, including the La La Classic Avocado Toast, which is sprinkled with lemon juice and chili flakes, and a Buttery Toast sweetened hazelnut topped with a Nutella type spread and strawberries and bananas.
The Instagram-worthy cafe, itself, has a clean and bright aesthetic, with yellow accents; a “happy window”, where coffee is served; and merchandise – sold in-store and online – that includes T-shirts, hats and mugs with cheeky sayings like “Don’t be a dickhead” and “Just be fucking nice.”
But according to its management and employees, this push to “normalize kindness” (kindness first, coffee second) isn’t just for show. It is a sincere business model which is confirmed in its work environment and even in its ingredients.
For example, hand-picked coffee beans and matcha – a small batch of ceremonial quality from some of Japan’s oldest family farms – are both fairly traded and sourced above market price in Japan. hope to improve the quality of life and education within the communities from which they are purchased.
Employees are also chosen with care. Building on We Are One Project, founder Francois Reihani’s non-profit organization that provides tools for businesses to meet and employ young people in foster care, the cafe is also working to hire people who have aged outside the foster care system. The cafe offers an eight-week internship program with paid on-the-job and customer service training, mentorship, and help with job placement, housing, schooling, and therapy. So far, La La operations manager Amaris Watje, who works in Houston, said a person formerly in the foster care system graduated from his location in Heights and is now working full-time. full in the shop.
“We choose people who naturally want to be a positive light and be positive at work…who love what they do and already love getting compliments, and that’s a very special person,” says Watje.
And online, the cafe has earned a distinct reputation entirely for its friendly drive-throughs, during which employees shower strangers on the street with thoughtful compliments. Although the TikTok account is largely absent from any of its products, its dozens of reels have amassed over a billion views and millions of subscribers, replacing Starbucks, Dunkin’ and even Disney.
And it all started with Reihani, who wanted to combine her love of hospitality and giving back to the community while creating a socially conscious and caring “dream world” for customers.
After launching Pōk the Raw Bar – what was billed as the first poke restaurant in Dallas, Reihani first opened La La Land Kind Cafe in Los Angeles in 2019. He later branched out to Dallas, where The La now has four slots. And it wasn’t long before Houstonians demanded their own outpost.
According to a spokesperson, the company received more than 3,000 direct messages on social media and more than 1,500 phone calls regarding its Houston location. Now, La La Land has seven locations, opening its first location in Houston in the Heights MKT in May and its newest outpost in Montrose in August.
Now, locals can get their pick-me-up in the form of caffeinated drinks, breakfast, or that unique La La energy any time of the week.
The La La Land Kind Cafe will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.