This year has been nothing short of epic for Issa Rae. The Los Angeles native launched a record label in partnership with Atlantic Records and she also stepped into the tech industry by investing in a startup owned and operated by a Black woman. Rae is continuing her mission of using her platform and resources to empower and uplift her community. According to Los Angeles Magazine, she is the co-owner of a new coffee shop in Inglewood.
Opening the eatery—dubbed Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen—was a collaborative effort between Rae, Yonnie Hagos and Ajay Relan. Aware of the lack of Black-owned coffee shops, the entrepreneurs were determined to create a safe space for the community that cultivates innovation, creativity, and collaboration. It was also created to provide jobs for individuals in the local community. The coffee shop, which officially opened its doors earlier this month, serves a variety of healthy food options, coffees and teas. Hilltop Coffee and Kitchen is a 3,500-square foot space.
“I’ve always wanted a coffee shop in my neighborhood,” Rae said in a statement. “Coffee shops facilitate productivity in so many ways, they facilitate collaboration. 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, people of color-owned in my neighborhood.” Hagos and Relan have deep roots in Los Angeles. “Yonnie Hagos actually grew up around the corner from the location and Ajay is also from the L.A. area,” Hilltop Marketing Manager Tara King told the Los Angeleno. “So for them both, this is the place that they grew up in. They definitely wanted to invest in their own community.”
Over the past year, there has been a rise in Black-owned cafes in the South L.A. area including Leimert Park’s Hot and Cool Café, Sip & Sonder in Downtown Inglewood and Jefferson Park’s Red Bay Coffee.