LA MESA -- Cosmos Coffee Cafe, since 2004 a central gathering place for La Mesans young and old, is changing hands. Patrick Hoz and Paul Johnson, the two local entrepreneurs who quickly turned the shop into a center for coffee, talk and art, are selling the business and moving on to other ventures. "This was always our plan,'' Johnson said this morning. "We'd build it and sell it. It's time to reinvent ourselves again.''

The new owner, San Francisco chef Ari Bejar, was in the shop this morning, meeting with staff and customers and learning the ropes.

Bejar, a 46-year-old father of a seven month old child, visited Cosmos and the La Mesa Village and immediately fell in love with the set up. He said he and his wife plan to move to La Mesa from their University City home within the year.

"I don't have any plans to change Cosmos on the exterior,'' Bejar said. "I want to keep the great customer service and continue to have it be the emotional heart of the Village. My biggest focus will be to look at the expansion of the menu.''

Bejar, an expert in Mexican regional cuisine, said he plans to add a line of ice creams and sorbets over the next four to six months and he will continue to look at broadening a sandwich and salad menu. The cafe does not have a full kitchen, which will limit any expansion largely to cold items.

"There are a lot of cold dishes from around the world that can add to what we do here,'' he said.
Cosmos founder Patrick Hoz was visiting with regulars today and said he had no immediate plans, but to take a couple months off "and then see who's hiring,'' he told a table of long-time customers he often referred to as "The Stoners.''

The nickname did not come from any association with hemp, but because those customers dated back to the previous owner, which operated a less eclectic and far less vibrant shop.

News of the sale was met with surprise and some concern by long-time La Mesa customers who have appreciated the stylish, yet relaxed atmosphere Hoz and Johnson brought to the La Mesa Boulevard location.

In ways, Cosmos' arrival in 2004 was part of a mini-boom in more thoughtful eating establishments that have grown up on in the Village since then.

Tiramisu across the street, Gio's a few blocks up and more recently a new Swami's two doors down from Cosmos have been part of a greening of the heart of the Village.

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Tags: Business, Cosmos

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Comment by Get Centered Clay Studio (Elly) on December 1, 2010 at 10:31am
I'm really happy that they found a new owner. It sounds like he is really happy too!
Comment by chris shea on November 30, 2010 at 3:23pm
I adore Cosmos. The kids who work there are great and remember what I always order, a skill I admire. The coffee is the best in the land and the food is wonderful too. I wish all good things for Patrick and Paul and for Ari as well. Such good people go to Cosmos! La Mesa is lucky to have such a great place for coffee and community.
Comment by Nelly Burns on November 30, 2010 at 8:39am
I hope that the new owner continues to support live music and art. That's what made Cosmo's stand out from other coffee shops.
Comment by J Piper on November 29, 2010 at 3:45pm
:( So sad to see Patrick and Paul go. Ever since they bought the place it became my go to spot before work for breakfast on the go, even though it added at least 15 minutes to my commute. They really have been the heart of the Village. Whatever is next will be lucky to have them. Best wishes, Guys!
Comment by Andi Esposito on November 29, 2010 at 3:18pm
Oh, no! We love Cosmos -- the coffee, the mugs, the atmosphere, the breakfast sandwiches, the caring workers, the WiFi, the art, the casual ambience that makes this business a go-to place without question. But life is change. We hope the new owner's plan embraces what old clientele have loved and celebrated in Cosmos and adds more to the daily conversation. Goodbye to Pat and Paul; hello to Ari. - Andi Esposito
Comment by Karen Pearlman on November 29, 2010 at 2:59pm
Too bad i don't drink coffee... great vibe in this place though! Good story.

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