Thursday, July 18, 2024

Wide Eyes Open Palms to shutter, shift toward new owner and re-brand as Good Day Cafe


The two unabashedly queer, proud women behind Wide Eyes Open Palms—Chef Kat McIver and coffee maestro Angie Evans, who founded what is colloquially known as WEOP—have decided to pass the torch to a new owner. The space’s last day of operation as Wide Eyes Open Palms will be June 2, followed by a two-week closure to re-brand as the Good Day Cafe.

‘The season has changed with WEOP:’ Why the owners of Wide Eyes Open Palms are moving on

“We have made building this business our lives and passion for the past ten years and as we enter into our 40s, things shift and the season has changed for us,” Evans said frankly. “We’re ready to do something different and let someone new shepherd the space into the next decade of service to our community.”

There is a weight to Evans’s comment: Launching as a coffee and pastry popup at the Downtown Farmers Market in 2013—when the space was in a then-empty parking lot at the southwest corner of 3rd Street and Pacific Avenue—and then moving into a brick-and-mortar off of 4th Street and Cherry Avenue in 2017, they created a queer-centric space that has become embedded into the community. Even more, their Californian take on the classic sidewalk bistro gave Long Beach some of its best food.

And they’ve also had their ups and downs: As with many, the pandemic met the pair with burn-out, frustration, and a lack of inspiration—but they managed to genuinely push through, opening across more hours, and offering an extensive menu after momentarily having to stop hot food service.

Even more, despite the deep love they have for their patrons, they are paying attention to their own well-being, evolution, and mental health status—something many in the industry don’t address or outright repress as the 24-7 job of owning a business severely cuts time and space for other endeavors.

“We want to do some of the things we honestly haven’t had time or space for while operating our restaurant in for the past seven years,” Evans said. “We will definitely be hitting the road in our camper van this summer to get some much needed nature adventures… Hitting up some queer festivals around the country… Leisurely shopping the local farmers markets… Making a lot of food from scratch at home… And, of course, visiting and connecting with family and friends.”

So Wide Eyes Open Palms will become the Good Day Cafe—what exactly is it?

The emphasis on “queer-centric” cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to Wide Eyes Open Palms—whether it is Evans’s appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race, their constant endorsement and support of queer-owned brands, or their overall aura.

“When you build a business like WEOP that has been intentionally created to share craft and create a community of connection, it soon becomes bigger than you,” Evans said. “WEOP wasn’t just a business; it became a necessary space for the queer, radical, and health conscious community. Our decade-plus years in business has shown how needed and valuable it has been and we are grateful.”

In that vein, though they are not able to carry it further, it doesn’t mean the physical space can’t contain its spirit: They will be passing the torch onto new owner Lindsey Mark and her wife Nikki, who will maintain its queer identity under the new name of the Good Day Cafe.

“It feels like a very WEOP-y universal alignment that the new owners who will be taking over the space are queer women who truly want to continue the Wide Eyes Open Palms spirit as an LGBTQ- and ally-inclusive space,” Evans said. “They have both been working in the restaurant industry for over 15 years: Lindsey cherishes the diversity of Long Beach and believes that hospitality is a core part of community building—she even met her wife Nikki while working at a restaurant in Long Beach.”

Although the name will change, Evans notes that Lindsey is dedicated to making sure the WEOP food, coffee, and pastry staples continue to be part of the menu for the loyal customers that might raise an eyebrow toward the new space. But rest assured: Lindsey will also be adding her own specials.

June comes up—what comes after for the owners of Wide Eyes Open Palms?

And do not expect McIver and Evans to wrest on their laurels: They very much plan to continue to be involved in the restaurant industry, already discussing the formation of an organization that provides consulting and coaching for new or existing restaurants and coffee shops. This can be everything from helping them organize their kitchens and offices to maximize work flow to training processes and procedures to providing tools for thoughtful sourcing and sustainability practices.

“We have learned so much over the years: From farmers markets to building out a restaurant and coffee shop from the ground up,” Evans said. “All the while, having to constantly pivot—from COVID to inflation and economic depression, the one thing that always kept our business thriving and profitable was our ability to reorganize and reimagine what the space, menu, and the business could be.”

Their endeavor was rather impressive: They ran a consistently busy, deeply loved restaurant-bakery-coffee shop out of a 600 square foot space that had nothing but induction burners and ovens.

“Navigating the restaurant industry can be difficult and some owners, new and old, just need help organizing their space and menus to find their maximum potential, while providing a sense of relief to the everyday operations,” Evans said. “We would love to share our knowledge all around the country.”

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Onward and upward, ladies.

The last day of service at Wide Eyes Open Palms, located at 416 Cherry Ave., will be on Sunday, June 2.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.



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