Take My Coffeehouse. . . Please!

Art by Bob AulTired of slacking at that dead-end telemarketing job? Fed up with data entry? Thinking it's about time to flip off your brain-dead boss and go to work for you, yourself and ONLY you? Got 100 bucks? For $100, you can enter Hot Java's 500-word essay contest. The prize? Hot Java, a “gourmet coffeehouse” on Long Beach's Broadway Avenue. “The place is doing well,” says co-owner Tim Branda as we sip a Vienna Roast blend at a cozy wood table. “It's just time for us to move on to other things.” Quite frankly, the OC Weekly expected to smell a scam-along with the aroma of a fine espresso roast. We expected to find roaches scuttling in dusty corners (not that that would keep us away from the Antigua); big, burly truckers with hash browns stuck in their beards; and the health inspector tied and gagged in a back closet. Instead, we found a clean, well-lit space in a nice part of Long Beach (two blocks from the beach, on a main route to downtown, and right near popular Chinese and Thai restaurants), replete with cozy chairs, a couch and odd bits of sculpture atop plaster pilasters. Posted clearly in the window was a March 1 review from the Long Beach Board of Health: “No Corrective Measures Required.” Branda also promises that the new owners won't be stuck with any previous bills or back taxes. “That will all be taken care of before we leave,” he notes. To win, you have to write an essay titled, “If I owned Hot Java, I would . . .” “We're looking more for fresh ideas and enthusiasm for running a small business than we are actual writing ability,” says Branda, “though I'm sure using a spell check wouldn't hurt.” Branda and his partner, Randy Calcetas, have owned Hot Java for four years. “Mostly, it's been good,” says Branda. “It slows down a bit in the winter-like everything-but there's steady business through the hotter months. . . . This was the first business either of us owned, and it has given us the courage to go out and do other things.” Branda and Calcetas got the idea for the contest from the movie Spitfire Grill, in which a Maine restaurant is given away by similar means. Then they heard about a coffeehouse in Big Bear that tried the idea last year. The contest received more than 1,200 entries in less than three months, which is about how many Hot Java is expecting. While the essays and entry fees are being handled through the Long Beach law offices of Steven F. Carlson, we wholeheartedly suggest that prospective entrants stop by the coffeehouse, take a look around, and pick up a copy of the rules. Hot Java is located at 2105 E. Broadway, between Temple and Junipero. Phone (562) 433-0688 for directions or more information. And do it quick because we intend to polish our entry while we keep you busy reading this article.

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