Back in 1998, the Miracle Mile was a very different place than it is today. Most of the big old department stores had long since closed, neither subway construction nor today’s major redevelopment boom had yet taken hold, and there definitely wasn’t a Starbucks coffee outlet on nearly every block. But in October of that year, a new coffee place did open at 5657 Wilshire Blvd. — Black Dog Coffee…which has now weathered two decades of changes, is still thriving today and is celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout the month of October.
On the Black Dog website, the cafe’s owner, Brad Gold (a.k.a. “Mr. Black Dog”), says the decision to start his own business in 1998 was the result of being nudged out of another gig. “At age 53, I got laid off (along with many of my colleagues) from a senior operational position with a struggling restaurant chain. They had expanded too quickly, and had signed a few too many leases in locations that were marginal. Over the years I had interviewed enough middle aged job applicants to appreciate that it was time to become self-employed. I was short on cash and in a big hurry so negotiating a lease and building out a cafe was out of the question.”
Gold goes on to say, “What was most daunting was that I was going to need to find a seriously under performing existing cafe whose owner was highly motivated to get out of his lease and wasn’t asking too much. I got very lucky and found just what I wanted 8 blocks from home.”
Gold’s wife, Evie, whom he often refers to as “Mrs. Black Dog,” says on the same page that the location seemed almost pre-ordained. “He started looking for a restaurant for sale and found one nearby. I said “Hey, that’s my building!” I had a psychotherapy practice there for many years, and was just in the process of moving out. So our joke now is that one of us apparently has to be in that building at all times.”
Evie Gold says in her remarks that suggestions from friends and a contest to name the new business included frontrunners “Jews for Java” and “He-brew”…but then, “When we were driving one day, Brad was talking about the black lab he had years earlier, Poocho, and his eyes filled with tears talking about him. So, Black Dog it was!” The name also honored the couple’s passion for animals, and helped inspire them to donate part of each Friday’s profits to the Best Friends Animal Society, a tradition that continues today.
Over the last 20 years, the cafe, which is dog-friendly and known for its “Caffe Cubano,” authentic Chicago-style hot dogs, and vegetarian/vegan options in addition to its breakfasts, soups and sandwiches, has become well entrenched as a neighborhood favorite. And owner Gold is still thrilled with his fortuitous location. “I love working on the Miracle Mile,” he told the Buzz a few days ago, “because it’s the perfect mix of residential customers, and customers who work there Monday through Friday. The demographics are perfect, with a lot of young energetic people, as well as older people – all kind and interesting. I feel so connected to so many of our customers, and they have been so wonderful to us.”
Gold says he has also enjoyed watching the evolution of the neighborhood over the last two decades. “The changes on the Mile have been dramatic in the last 20 years,” he told us. “For many years there was a huge hole, catty corner to The Dog, that was once the spot of the Broadway Dept Store (coincidentally, Mrs. Black Dog worked there as a college student). Now sitting in that spot is the hip 5600 mixed-use building.”
But despite (or maybe because of) all the changes, Gold said, “The Mile looks better than ever, and the Metro Line is a great addition for the entire neighborhood.” And finally, he says, he’s very grateful “for being able to serve the Mile for the last 20 years!”
Black Dog’s anniversary celebration will continue through all four weeks of October. During breakfast hours, from 7 am to 11 am on weekdays and 8 am to 2 pm on weekends, there will be one breakfast menu item offered at the original 1998 price. And from 11 am until closing, there will be a 1998-priced lunch menu item available.
The remaining anniversary specials include:
Week of Oct 8
Breakfast: Brad’s Scramble – regular price $7.25/ anniversary special $4.50
Lunch: Chinese Chicken Salad – $9.95/$6.50
Week of Oct 15
Breakfast: Eggs Benedict – $8.75/$5.50
Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Short Rib Sandwich – $9.75/$6.25
Week of Oct 22
Breakfast: Breakfast Quesadilla – $6.95/$4.10
Lunch: California Wrap – $8.75/$5.50
(Please note that the sale items are available at the current 2018 price at other hours, and the offer cannot be combined with any other special offer, discount or promotion. The special items can be ordered in person, by telephone, or for in-store pickup on Chow Now…but not through the Postmates or Uber Eats delivery apps.)