Issa Rae partners with cafe in Inglewood: Aims for business to reflect community

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- "My name is Ajay Relan. I am the co-owner of Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen and we are here at our flagship location in Inglewood, California," Relan said.

Co-owners Ajay Relan and Yonatan Hagos opened the first Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen on Slauson Avenue back in August 2018, but just this December, they opened new doors in Inglewood.

"For me, being from the community, just being able to add value to the community that I was born and raised in and a community that raised me, is huge for me," Hagos said.

With the new location, Relan and Hagos have also added another partner, Inglewood native, actor, writer and producer, Issa Rae.

"I personally have done all of my writing in coffee shops, so it always disappointed me that there weren't any that were black-owned, that were even people-of -color owned in my neighborhood," Rae said.

Both Relan and Hagos say having Rae as a partner has added to their growth. Dallas, Texas resident Breanna Turnley was visiting Los Angeles for her birthday and had to add the coffee shop to her to-do list.

"I actually follow Issa Rae on Instagram and I saw that she partnered with a coffee shop so I was adding this to my list for birthday adventures," Turnley said.

At Hilltop it's not just about a delicious Lavender Latte or a Bangin' Breakfast sandwich, they want this to be a space for the community, by the community, which is why they host community events at the shop.

"We understand what coffee shops kind of signify to rapidly changing communities," Relan said. "So, for us, every design detail, every menu item or every team member that we've added has really come from the place of wanting to reflect the local community."

"Businesses like this are so awesome," Turnley said. "It's always great to see people who look like you, it feels so warm and welcoming and I just love that it's in a neighborhood that represents people like us."

"Now to have the Inglewood location, I'm just immensely proud, because it's home," Rae said.

Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen in Inglewood is located at 170 N. La Brea Ave. Inglewood, CA 90301.

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