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Meet Jonathan Klein of Open Space in Fairfax District

Jonathan Klein has been a fixture in the Los Angeles arts community for the past 20 plus years. Over the years, he has been affiliated with numerous theater companies, including Circle X, The Actors’ Gang, Friends and Artists Theatre Ensemble, and for the last 21 years as a member of Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood. While there, he worked as an actor, producer, director, lighting and sound designer among other things. In 2002, Jonathan started The Young Writers Project, a grass roots program that brought hundreds of high school kids from all over southern California to teach playwriting and produce the plays written by the students. He ran that program for 13 years and it is still going strong today.

Coffee has been a part of Jonathan’s life for the past 20 years – not only to get him through late night rehearsals, but because it is a passion. In the early 90’s, he helped open a coffee shop on 6th and LaBrea called The Bean, next door to the old King King. After a short stint with Stir Crazy on Melrose in ’94, he helped open The Hotel Cafe when it was just a small coffee house with no entertainment. He was instrumental in getting their first musical act…the rest is history.

In 2013, while Jonathan was working as a Music Supervisor on the FX show, The League, he was approached to help run a new venture that turned out to be Open Space. The idea was to create a space that would bring together performers and creative people from all genres and walks of life. Jonathan, along with owner, Itamar Ravid felt they wanted to revive the type of “social scene” coffee house they had been a part of in the 90’s, but still retain a modern feel. They would use the cafe, which caters to creative types, to begin a dialog in hopes that patron and owner could benefit from each other.

The result has been amazing. After only a couple of years, Open Space has become one of the premiere intimate, eclectic performance venues in Los Angeles. With 23 monthly shows that range from stand-up comedy, improv, sketch comedy, live music, movie screenings, podcasts, variety shows, etc. There is something for everyone at Open Space.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Anyone who has ever attempted to open their own business can tell you there is no smooth road to success. It is an unpaved mess, that will leave you reeling if you don’t stay on top of every little detail. We had issues from the very beginning, but have always overcome whatever stood in our way. Above all, Itamar and I strive to have an open line of honest communication. When we doubt ourselves, we help each other remember why we started the business, when it’s hard to see the forest through the trees.

Please tell us about Open Space.
We like to explain what we do here as “a creative space fueled by coffee.” Our motto is Coffee. Create. Community.

Apart from high quality specialty coffees, provided by our house roaster, Matador Coffee Roasters, we work with local specialty roasters on a rotating basis to offer single origin, single estate coffees. Our Cafe menu offers handmade sandwiches, inspired by great tastes from around the world, healthy fresh salads, fresh baked goods made by local artisans.

We pride ourselves, above all, in our customer service. Our goal is to create a community around Open Space. A place where our neighbors can feel comfortable, welcome and free to express themselves.

Beyond setting ourselves apart by offering the best quality product and unflinching customer service, we offer nightly entertainment in our theatre. We strive to curate an eclectic program of shows. We currently have some 23 monthly shows ranging from live podcasts, standup comedy, variety shows, radio plays, live music, sketch and improv shows, to corporate meetings, community events, talks, lectures and classes. Some of the best local, regional and national acts come through our doors and love the intimate nature of what we do here.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
By far, my favorite memory from childhood is the time I spent at sleep away camp. I come from the east coast, where it’s common for kids to go to camp for eight weeks during the summer. I attended Indian Acres Camp in Fryeburg, Maine for seven summers, beginning when I was ten years old. Camp gave me a sense of who I was away from my family and set me on the road to becoming the man I am today. It’s probably why having a strong community of creative, positive people around me is so important in my life.

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Image Credit:
cafe and theatre pictures by James Weir Photography. Staff Pictures by Jaclyn Fleming.

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