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Rising Stars: Meet Megan Gulla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Gulla.

Hi Megan, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Black Heart Coffee Co. came to life because every time I wanted to go out and get a good cup of coffee my options were either to drive to another part of town or Starbucks. It’s crazy to think that in such a big area of Los Angeles, The Valley had such minimal options for a good quick cup of coffee and something to eat.

You can’t drive anywhere in Hollywood, Santa Monica or East LA without coming across a cool coffee shop every few miles. That is where the idea started to blossom. Why can’t the valley have a fun and funky cafe where not only can you get a great cup of coffee, but an amazing meal as well? I feel like most places either have bomb coffee OR bomb food. Our goal with Black Heart was to have both so we can be a one stop shop for locals. Flash to February 2020 – The build-out for Black Heart was finished, the staff was hired and menu was set. Then COVID happened and pulled the rug right out from under us. We decided for the health and safety of our staff we would wait to open until things with the virus calmed down a little. Meanwhile, I was working closely with the LA County health department on implementing covid safety protocols. We installed plexiglass barriers, built a take-out window for contact-free transactions and built and outdoor dining area. Once October rolled around, we were finally ready to open! The love and support from our local community has been absolutely amazing. We have been welcomed with open arms and feel very grateful to be open and operating during such an unpredictable and scary time.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Oh, it definitely has not been a smooth road, lol. I already knew trying to open a restaurant in the middle of a global health crisis was a crazy idea, but I still underestimated the amount of curveballs that would be thrown at us. Before opening everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. From things like electrical and plumbing issues to going through 3 broken espresso machines until we found the right one that fit our needs. Everyday seemed to unearth a new problem, but we somehow managed to keep it together and open! Shortly after opening, LA was hit with a major COVID spikes that forced us to close our new outdoor dining area, which in turn made sales drop dramatically. So not only are we battling being a new restaurant trying to get our name out there, we’re battling major limitations with only being able to offer to-go options.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Oh gosh, I don’t know. I suppose what sets me apart from others is that I fell into this business by accident. I’m a college dropout and started working at restaurants just to make ends meet. The only real work experience I had prior to restaurants was working as a deckhand on my grandfather’s fishing boat in Alaska. I honestly think that was the most important part of my career journey. Working on a fishing boat taught me that patience, hard work and dedication really does pay off. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have listed on your resume, if you’re willing to put in the time, effort and sacrifice doors are bound to open for you. I was lucky enough to meet some amazing people along the way and with their help, the dream of opening a restaurant almost 15 years later finally came to life!

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
I’ve tried to make sure Black Heart is as eco-friendly as possible! Almost all of the packaging we use comes from either recycled or biodegradable materials. I take climate change seriously and we do our part to make sure there is minimal waste and the products we bring in are sustainably sourced. For example, our straws are made from corn, our cups are eco-friendly, our used coffee grounds go to a local community garden and even our water bottles are made from recycled aluminum cans! Every little bit helps 🙂

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