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Meet Stasie and Shai Bitton of Cafe Smitten in Bakersfield

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stasie and Shai Bitton.

Stasie and Shai, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Bakersfield but lived most of my adult life between San Francisco and New York. One of my favorite parts of living in a city were the small local coffee shops, a place where you walk in and the barista knows your name and your favorite drink. It was a long time dream of Shai (my husband + business partner) and I to build our own coffee shop, and when we were given the unique opportunity to build in Downtown Bakersfield, we decided to go for it!

The concept behind Cafe Smitten came from the cafés of Europe 一 a place where you can grab a morning coffee and scone to go, sit at a table with a friend for lunch, have a gathering at the communal table, or have a glass of wine after work. Shai brings over a decade of experience managing restaurants in New York City, and I’m a coffee shop connoisseur who was intent on bringing the best of big-city coffee culture to my hometown.

Our last names, Smith + Bitton = Smitten!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The building was built in 1929 and served as a tire shop up until the 90’s. For us, conception, design, built out to opening took over two years!

The built out was exciting but challenging. We had to demo the entire interior and start from scratch.

We worked to create a unique space for Bakersfieldー exposing the original brick walls and trussed ceilings and adding new features like a large sliding storefront window that opens up to a side patio.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Cafe Smitten story. Tell us more about the business.
Cafe Smitten is the first in Bakersfield to brew and sell Counter Culture Coffee, an Emeryville-based roaster known for the quality of their coffee. We’ve quickly become the go-to place for an authentic cappuccino or latte.

We offer pastries and desserts that are delivered fresh daily from local baker Courtney with GhilaDolci Bakery. We also have a backyard “pop up” bar (out of our Ctrain) where we serve local beer and wine on Friday nights, accompanied by live music.

The menu was inspired by Shai’s hometown of Jerusalem, like the Moroccan eggs, and other plates that include hummus, tahini, and olives. The menu also highlights Californian offerings like the avocado smash and house-made granola.

Also, we recently launched a partnership with the Pie Hole, LA – we now carry their top rated sweet and savory pies at Cafe Smitten.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Lucky that the town truly and whole-heartily embraced Cafe Smitten.

We knew we had a beautiful vision and great product, but would the town be receptive of it? We are one of the first third wave coffee shops in town. Lucky from day one they’ve loved it, and the business continues to grow.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 909 18th Street
  • Website: www.cafesmitten.com
  • Phone: 661-843-7305
  • Email: info@cafesmitten.com
  • Instagram: @cafesmitten
  • Facebook: @cafesmitten
  • Yelp: Cafe Smitten

Image Credit:
Brian Yanez

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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