Opening Today, Monday, June 15, Strings of Life–a new modern Aussie-inspired all-day indoor and outdoor café and artisanal coffee concept from Grant Smillie & David Combes of Botanical Hospitality Group, the owners of the popular West Hollywood modern Asian dining destination and rooftop, E.P. & L.P.–joins the dynamic culinary community in West Hollywood. Located along a forever-changed row of businesses, boutiques, and eateries on Melrose Avenue, Strings of Life (S.O.L.) is an inclusive, collaborative space that ties together an increasingly fractured community and provides a catalyst for new ideas, progress, and most importantly, transformation. S.O.L. seeks to inspire connection, with food that challenges conventions and sparks meaningful conversation in a city brimming with change and connectedness in public spaces once again. S.O.L. will be open daily from 7 a.m. — 4 p.m.
A tribute to pioneering techno music producer Derrick May and one of his seminal tracks of the same name, S.O.L. encapsulates the vibrant, high-energy musical genre through a chef-driven, all-day menu created by celebrated Australian culinary duo and husband-wife team, Monty Koludrovic & Jaci Koludrovic (overseeing the pastry program) and an artisanal coffee program inspired by Australia’s superb coffee culture with Common Room Roasters.
Combining fresh, California ingredients with Australian staples, S.O.L. re-introduces Angelenos to a casual, welcoming daytime dining concept that emphasizes thoughtful presentation with quality ingredients, affordability, and celebrated coffee culture. “Strings of Life is an all-day café concept that is produce-driven, chef-led, and coffee-focused, which is prevalent in our native Australia,” says Grant Smillie, S.O.L. Co-Owner. “We have also gone to great lengths to design S.O.L. to be beautiful and functional–much like you would a large-format restaurant–and the plating and flavors will showcase that.”
Much like the strings on a bow, the classic Australian all-day café represents many things at once, from a quick grab-and-go coffee and a nourishing post-workout snack to a leisurely meal while catching up with friends or a business lunch–all of which is reflective of the vibrant city of West Hollywood. “West Hollywood is a culturally diverse, globally significant, progressive, and forward-thinking neighborhood,” adds S.O.L. Co-Owner David Combes. “It is our view that the world is watching West Hollywood closely for the latest trends and innovation that resonates from this city, now more than ever.”
Oz Meets L.A.
Inspired by Executive Chef Monty Koludrovic’s dynamic upbringing in Byron Bay and his subsequent culinary career at the iconic Bondi Icebergs Dining Room and Bar overlooking Sydney’s famous Bondi and The Dolphin Hotel, he brings more than a decade of experience to S.O.L.
“The distinctive Australian approach to casual dining that I grew up with is still very much a part of what S.O.L. is,” notes Koludrovic. “It would be impossible not to be inspired by the myriad of cultures and history of Los Angeles, and that same sense of place permeates into my food.”
Combining fresh, California ingredients with Australian staples like Vegemite and Yarra Valley Caviar, Koludrovic reinvents the traditional Aussie café menu for the SoCal palate, with thoughtfully crafted dishes including an ‘Everything Bagel’ Crispy Potato Cake with smoked salmon, cream cheese, radish arugula and dill; Cheese and Vegemite Croissant; a Basil Fowlty with basil-steamed chicken, sweet potato, pickled onion, arugula, and aioli; and Lettuce Cups with marinated Ahi Tuna, pickles, butter lettuce, fragrant herbs, grilled seaweed, salted cucumber, avocado, and chili.
The in-house pastry program will also be one to take note of, helmed by Australian Pastry Chef Jaci Koludrovic, featuring classic Australian pastries with a Southern California twist, including the signature Coconut & Raspberry Fairy Bread (GF/DF/NF); Macadamia & Cranberry Florentines; a decadent Cinnamon Roll Waffle; Savory Muffin with spinach, zucchini, herbs and feta; and her famous gluten-free, dairy-free Whole Orange & Chocolate “Jaffingtons,” a healthy-ish take on the classic Australian Lamington cake.
Behind the Bean
Coffee is an integral part of the Australian café culture, and S.O.L. has partnered with fellow Australian company Common Room Roasters to develop a signature S.O.L. Melrose roast, available exclusively at the café.
Common Room Roasters, originally from Melbourne, Australia and now located in Newport Beach, offers ethically sourced specialty brews from around the world, with a specialization in Australian-style coffee beverages including the Flat White, Long and Short Black, Australian Matcha, and Turmeric Lattes, all of which are available at S.O.L.
“Aussies are very particular about their coffee!” notes Smillie. “We’ve partnered with Common Room Roasters to create a S.O.L. Melrose Blend, which will be one of our signatures. Our partnership with the team has been driven by their passion and ethical sourcing from individual farms to create a truly unique flavor.”
Health & Safety, First & Foremost
In line with S.O.L.’s mission to offer a safe, collaborative, and inspiring space for Angelenos and visitors alike, the all-day dining destination has implemented the following health and safety procedures, which will be in place for the foreseeable future:
Socially Distanced Tables placed 6+ feet apart
Ample Patio and Outdoor Seating
60% capacity capped at 36 seats (24 indoor; 12 outdoor) for the foreseeable future
Heightened sterilization protocols including plexiglass barriers at the counter and hand sanitizer stations throughout the space
“Strings Of Life” is a seminal release by Detroit producer Derrick May under the moniker Rhythm is Rhythm. Recorded in 1987, May’s song received a rapturous response after being played in Frankie Knuckles club in Chicago and went on to become one of the most influential techno anthems in history. Written in the formative years of the genre, May’s “Strings of Life” revealed the power and potential that exists within music. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr, May explained: “When they killed him they destroyed the hopes and dreams of a generation. It was about the hope in his message.”
Naming & Manifesto
S.O.L. or “Strings of Life” is a reference to the energy, connection, power, and pure joy that music and food brings to people. A feeling that creates immensely strong bonds which everything else revolves around. More than just a place to grab a coffee or have some lunch, S.O.L. is a venue that ties together an increasingly fractured community and provides a catalyst for new ideas, progress and change. It is a feeling of connection, freedom and potential. This ethos encapsulates everything S.O.L. does, from food that challenges conventions to unique product collaborations with some of LA’s most exciting talent.
S.O.L. will operate in an intimate 1,100 sq ft space just off Melrose with a dedicated ‘To Go’ window with a total of 50 seats.
New limited seating capacity will be 36 seats altogether (24 indoor, 12 outdoor) with safe social distancing protocols in place.