A new spot opening in the South Bay later this fall will span a coffee and beer bar, roastery, and restaurant revolving around the spirit of collaboration and education, all shaped by the backgrounds and cultures of its partners.
Friends of Friends is a project developed by Public Square Coffee House owner Aaron Henderson and Marco Laguna, a longtime coffee pro who’s worked with the La Mesa cafe for several years and is a former general manager at Lofty Coffee.
For Laguna, who grew up in National City, it’s an opportunity to bring his hometown a friendly space in which to gather. The 4,500-square-foot site on 8th Street, which is being designed as a daytime and late-night hangout, will have a listening lounge and DJ booth for guests to share their vinyl collections.
Serving a drink menu incorporating Mexican and South American flavors along with Filipino influences, the coffee bar will also be stocked with taps of local beer.
Henderson, who is half-Filipino, tells Eater that the Friends of Friends’s roastery will have a community-minded purpose: helping home roasters and microroasters to scale up their businesses and offering vocational training and education to students at A Reason To Survive (ARTS), National City-based youth development non-profit.
Providing the food will be OpenGym, the hospitality group headed up by chef Phillip Esteban, who also has a culinary bookstore and ramen shop in the nearby Market on 8th and was raised in neighboring Paradise Hills. Called Wavy, it’s an extension of the group’s ongoing burger pop-up run by chef Brandon James. Inspired by their travels and modeled after an all-day diner, the counter-service restaurant will serve a menu ranging from breakfast sandwiches and other small plates to chili and cheese-topped hot dogs, garlic confit portobello mushroom burgers, and their “OG”, a double-patty burger on a brioche bun with caramelized onion, white American cheese, and umami aioli. Prior to the opening of Friends of Friends, Wavy will be popping up at Hayes Burger in Barrio Logan on Monday, October 24 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.