When it rains, it pours, as they say. Case in point? As if the past year wasn’t hard enough on restaurants, with the multiple closures, modified reopenings and ever-changing restrictions, Sierra Madre’s beloved coffee shop Bean Town also faced an additional unexpected hardship. Last August, in the midst of the pandemic, the café was badly damaged when a driver crashed a Jaguar into its front entrance causing the place to be yellow-tagged by the city. It has been shuttered ever since, undergoing repairs. The good news? The shop is finally set to reopen this Friday, much to the delight of locals who have been addicted to its baked goods and strong brew for decades.
Bean Town initially opened its doors at 45 Baldwin Ave. in the heart of Sierra Madre’s quaint downtown in 1990. Sandwiched between a pizzeria and a beauty salon, the café was the brainchild of locals Karen Moylan and Susan Isherwood. According to a 1993 Pasadena Star-News blurb, the duo became inspired to establish the shop upon reading a magazine article about the rising popularity of coffee houses. So they quit their respective jobs, leased a former ice cream parlor space and tried their hand at slinging java, bringing Bean Town, originally named 45 Bean Town, to life.
It wasn’t long before the place became a Sierra Madre institution and by 1993, the women had opened a second Bean Town outpost at 425 S. Myrtle Ave. in nearby Monrovia. (Fun fact – that location, which currently houses the restaurant Grey & Cash, cameoed as Nana’s in the 1999 rom-com “Never Been Kissed”!)
Though the eatery has since changed hands, it remains a local landmark 31 years after its inception. As the authors of the book “Hometown Pasadena: The Insider’s Guide” said, “We’d live in Sierra Madre just for Bean Town – it’s the perfect coffee house.”
In 1993, Isherwood told the Star-News that the café served more than 300 patrons daily. You’ll still find it bustling at most hours today – or at least you would have pre-Covid and before the August accident. Hopefully, come Friday, the site will be bustling once again.