Cosmos Calls It Quits -- For Now

LA MESA -- In a sign of the challenges posed by the city's reconstruction of La Mesa Boulevard, Cosmos Coffee Cafe, a long-time business in the Village, closed its doors today.
Ari Bejar, Cosmos' owner, said the closure is, perhaps, temporary but for at least the foreseeable future the popular coffee shop will be shuttered.
"The construction project just killed us over the last year,'' Bejar said. "Everybody's gotten paid, but I didn't. I just had to make a tough decision for now.''
The reconstruction of the avenue clearly had an impact as the street and sidewalks were demolished. Even though the work progressed quickly by construction standards, the long-term drain on avenue businesses clearly hit the bottom line. Cosmos, which lost a magnificent tree and its outside patio to the project (see photo above), was particularly challenged by the transition to a new, more modern avenue.
Bejar said he is taking steps to see if the employees would like to assume ownership and reopen the location, but that has not been determined yet.

Word of the closure spread quickly among its many patrons. The Sam Johnson Trio, a jazz standards band that has filled Cosmos on most Friday afternoons, informed its fans that the Friday gigs are over for now.

"This gig was never a money maker for us (we made a few $ for gas),'' Sam Johnson posted on his Facebook page. "We enjoyed our audience and the ambiance and just jamming on a Friday afternoon.''

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Comment by Michael Cargill on October 15, 2015 at 4:55am

This is awful! It's so sad to see Cosmos go. Perhaps the city should provide grants to businesses to get them over the hump during construction projects.

Comment by Frank Robert Dittmer on September 7, 2015 at 9:32am
To add, the tree the resided in front of Cosmos, that everyone is crying about, had to removed because it was breaking the sidewalk, sewer lines and the foundation to the building. It had to be removed to save the building, which I'm sure if (the structure) was removed, would have caused an international incident I someone's eyes too. The tree is being replaced by no less then FOUR new trees. It will be lovely, so please relax everyone. FYI, if everyone would take a moment to observe what is happening around them and notice the large metal squares in the sidewalk they would know that everyone will house a TREE!

It's nice to see and hear that La Mesa's residents are so concerned with the village and closing businesses. With that, HOW MANY OF YOU SHOP IN THE AREA AND SUPPORT THOSE BUSINESS? Those of you who are so sad to see San Filippos and Cosmos leave did you eat and drink there on a regular basis? I thought so!
Comment by Joe Miller on September 3, 2015 at 2:00pm

Cosmos didn't close due to the strain of construction.  It closed because poor service and food quality.  Ari ran that place into the ground after he bought it.  The previous ownership partners were real business people, and it showed in the quality of the food and service.  Since Ari took over, I would routinely endure a long wait for food, as some college dropout, hired by Ari, tried to make a simple sandwich, while three other stoner employees sat around eating and gossiping, unwilling to assist with the lineup of order tickets.  Cosmos became a magnet for unemployed losers from halfway houses to spend the day sitting/sleeping on the couches and chairs.  Were they moved along so paying customers could visit?  Nope.  The gruesome clientele that Ari fostered drove away the paying clientele and the result is a closed business.   It's a coincidence that it occurred after sidewalk construction, or maybe it was intentional, so he could use that as an excuse to get out from his lease.  Either way, the business was poorly run all the way around and we should be thankful that it's gone.  Another coffee shop or restaurant will be born in its place, and it will be properly operated, and it will add "character and charm" to the village tenfold over Ari's Cosmos.  You'll soon forget Cosmos was even there, but you won't miss the bums it attracted, as transients, or employees.

Comment by Marie McLaughlin on September 3, 2015 at 10:16am

Businesses impacted by Streetscape are going through a difficult transition, but PBID is no solution to our economic weakness and was shelved by City Council for a reason.  Only our ex-mayor voted to keep it alive.  A PBID would have created an exorbitant extra expense on businesses like San Felippo's and Cosmos.  Restaurants were against PBID because of the high assessments for fees we were already paying for as tax payers.  Buildings with large square footage were assessed at ridiculous rates.  Some businesses & individuals can't even pay their property taxes on time and shouldn't be proponents of extra assessments for others.

Comment by michael steele on September 2, 2015 at 10:08am
Sad to learn of Cosmos closing. It has been a cafe & meeting place for years. What's more, it added to the character and charm of the village. This is the type of venue that must be preserved to keep the village vibrant, unique and alive.
Comment by Judith Piper on September 2, 2015 at 4:00am
Comment by chris shea on September 1, 2015 at 1:25pm

Speaking as someone who endured the street scape a month ago or so, I know how difficult it has been.  But the end result is worth the hassle, because now people don't trip on the sidewalk by walking on profoundly uneven and cracked concrete.  The work has been done in increments and never on both sides of the same block at once.  There have been bridges made for every single entrance so customers willing to park--free--from perhaps a bit further away have had full access to entering each store.

The trees on my end of the block were routinely run over by careless drivers and were finally removed.  I am looking forward to new and healthy trees being put in at the end of the Street Scape project. We all mourn the loss of the tree at Cosmos but I believe the roots of the tree were lifting up the entire sidewalk; worth the loss of a tree?  Some would say not, but there will be something else planted there that will grow and thrive.

Many of us have had days on end of fewer customers, but now I believe there is more foot traffic than ever before.  I have very high hopes that the best is yet to come.

Comment by Jim Wieboldt on September 1, 2015 at 8:45am
We need a PBID now more than ever!
Comment by Marie McLaughlin on September 1, 2015 at 8:12am

As Anna San Felipo pointed out, the increased minimum wages and mandatory sick leave is a small business killer--especially to restaurants.  Here come more realtors, insurance & mortgage companies to replace the much needed retail stores & restaurants.  La Mesa Village doesn't need more hair salons either.  We need businesses to encourage tourism and increase sales tax revenue.

Comment by Barbara Lawrence on August 31, 2015 at 10:11pm
Cutting down that tree makes me sick. The designers couldn't include it? Pretty short-sighted. Construction should have been handled in segments since it's negatively impacting so many businesses. What's the point of "improvements" if all the character is lost? Smh

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