Best Corporate ­Coffee Break

(Illustration by Ronald Kurniawan)

Best Corporate ­?Coffee Break

It might seem a tad, shall we say, unnecessaryto point out the charms of a particular Starbucks, given that there are at least 500 of them gracing greater Los Angeles, sometimes two within a single block. Yet it’s hard to ignore the design features of the Starbucks at 3722 Crenshaw Boulevard, which occupies an old diner space that was long connected to the Holiday Bowl — the legendary, now-departed bowling alley where Japanese-Americans and African-Americans found racial harmony while searching for that elusive 300 score.

While bowling is no longer an option at the nearby shopping center, Starbucks preserved the huge display windows and the zigzag, saw-toothed roof line of the old Googie-style coffee shop, repainting the exterior cream and brown. On the interior, the company added flying-saucer-shaped light fixtures evocative of the Space Age, while painting the protruding cinder block in a jaunty checkerboard pattern. Even the smooth diagonal walkway into the building, with dots spaced apart strategically like bowling pins, conjures up images of the old bowling alley/coffee shop.

Six years after the closure of Holiday Bowl, the Starbucks at Coliseum Street and Crenshaw Boulevard is absolutely buzzing on a Sunday, especially after the megachurch up the street lets out. And given that the building, a onetime symbol of interethnic harmony, had been earmarked for demolition six years ago, the most corporate of coffee chains provides a jolt of humanity to a long-vacant restaurant space.

Starbucks 3722 Crenshaw Blvd., L.A., (323) 292-7911

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