VENICE HOT SPOTS — AND COOL CHARM

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If you decide to stroll down Abbot Kinney Boulevard this summer, you’re likely to notice a few new spots, including food, innovative fashion and other luxury items.

Business representatives of the new restaurants and stores admit that choosing Abbot Kinney signals specific business goals, whether they are developing a brand, displaying something new, or aiming to become part of a particular scene.

The shopping area was ideal for Sweetfin, a Hawaiian-inspired poke restaurant, which opened its second location earlier this month. The company’s first fast-casual location was launched in Santa Monica in 2015.

“Our roots are based in the west side of L.A.,” Sweetfish co-founder Seth Cohen said. “We always wanted to spread the concept by the beach because we’re a fresh, local seafood concept.”
The restaurant offers build-your-own poke bowls with high-quality and sustainably farmed fish, along with other fresh ingredients.

Cohen said the Santa Monica location was successful because of the density of residents in the neighborhood and the abundance of health-focused customers who care about how their food is sourced. The company expects to experience the same demographic in Venice.

“It’s just very forward-thinking street in terms of the brands that are residents there,” said Cohen of Abbot Kinney. “There’s a lot of lifestyle brands that are great co-tenants for us, and a lot of fitness brands. Obviously the culinary scene on Abbot Kinney is some of the best in L.A., and I think we fit really well into that.”

Also new to the block is Boca de Agua, the first location of a Mexican ice cream and popsicle shop. The project of neighboring taco joint, La Tosataderia, the dessert shop offers Mexican-inspired flavors including chili-lime mango, cojita cheese and avocado mint.

MedMen, a premium marijuana dispensary, opened its 13thlocation two Fridays ago on the street, following other recent store openings this year in Beverly Hills and Orange County.
Daniel Yi, a spokesperson for the company, said the store’s new locations are strategically positioned in established shopping areas.

“Our thinking behind this is to put stores in local retail that are well-recognized and iconic because they are mainstream,” he said. “It elevates the cannabis because (Abbot Kinney) is a very trendy shopping district and to us, trendy translates to mainstream.”

Yi said the brand expects buyers to shop for cannabis just like they would any other luxury item, like wine or coffee.

The area attracts businesses for other reasons. Women’s lingerie start-up Evelyn & Bobbie opened its first storefront location this month and will remain open on Abbot Kinney until September.
The Portland-based bra company is innovating bra technology by using memory foam to provide bra support in a new way.

Performing business in Los Angeles provides a different opportunity for the mostly direct-to-consumer brand, nicknamed “the bra of the future,” which was initially backed from funding on Kickstarter.

Pop-up store manager Nicole Briggs said the opportunity to interact with clients provides the brand with a way to learn more about how the product works, how the brand can grow and the potential buyer.

“The client is a luxury-brand client who can afford almost anything they want, but also, they want things that people don’t have,” Briggs said. “There’s more understated luxury out here, not a lot of logos or labels; maybe expensive, but you don’t really know why or where it’s from. They are more discreet about being a luxury client.”

Melissa, an eco-conscious shoe company specializing in plastic shoes made from vegan and recyclable materials, opened its doors in May for a three-month stay.

Michele Levy, CEO of the company’s U.S. product distributor, said the Abbot Kinney pop-up is allowing the brand to connect with customers in a way the brand has not experienced in traditional retail locations.

“Here, the setup, and I think the California spirit, people come and hang. It’s not a shop, it’s an experience, a place people come to hang, which is something we haven’t experienced that much in our retail,” she said. “Here we feel we got it 100 percent right. It’s fantastic, it’s all we’ve dreamed of.”