GoFundMe intended to help cover construction costs and to support C&M Cafe’s employees
By Keemia Zhang
C&M Cafe, a Palms-based eatery, is raising money via crowdfunding in a bid to reopen their restaurant after closure.
The fundraiser has raised over $16,800 out of a $50,000 goal as of Monday afternoon and is intended to help cover construction costs and to support C&M Cafe’s employees.
The cafe currently faces a “3-day pay or vacate” eviction threat by their landlord, Norman Pezeshki, whom founder Kalissa Krejcik cites as a persistently “negligent landlord” who has struggled to offer building maintenance and refused to supply pest control until recently. “I firmly believe, this is the opposite of what our communities need and want.” says Krejcik. Pezeshki was contacted for comment, but stated that he “didn’t speak on the phone.”
The restaurant was founded ten years ago by Krejcik, who obtained the space from a friend who was closing her bakery “It was too good of an area and rent price to pass up.” C&M Cafe serves a menu of Eastern-European fusion with a “Westside fresh feel”, Krejcik says, often sourcing ingredients from local Palms and Mar Vista farmer’s markets. “My focus is clean, simple eats for every palette.”
“The biggest thing that I was missing when I moved to LA was what I call the great trifecta – great service, great food, and great pricing. I believe it was possible to do it and to consistently do it, and that’s what we’re about.” Krejcik says. “Whatever age you care, whatever dietary needs you have, whatever your price point is, I think you can find something here.”
The cafe, which opened ten years ago, has faced challenges – Krejcik lost the lease on their first location after the light rail displaced businesses.
“We’ve been faced with obstacles all the way along. We’ve had to expand and improve our product and continue to meet the area’s dietary needs,” Krejcik said. “There’s a lot of single-income families here, we’ve gotta keep prices down.”
Even with the eviction moratorium, C&M has had to deal with the threat of eviction three times within the past few years, which, as Krejcik notes, costs money and resources.
Nevertheless, the cafe has been integrated into the community. C&M regularly sponsored “[their] local schools”, ranging from Palms to El Segundo, providing gift certificates and goodies, C&M has also donated food for school events and teacher weeks. During the pandemic, they kept “special hours” to feed frontline workers, including members of the fire department, police department, and medical workers.
“I definitely feel like the core of what we’re doing and what I wanted, have stayed true – almost to a fault, especially where COVID’s been concerned,” Krejcik confesses. C&M cafe lost “$65,000 in one day” when the pandemic hit, after losing catering contracts. “Those (jobs) have never come back, they may never come back. This is the biggest hardship I have ever faced in my professional life.”
C&M Cafe had to close its doors, recently, after a health inspector found cockroaches in a paper goods area.
“I respect it and it was fair,” Krejcik said. “I have a 3,000 square foot restaurant and we’ve always maintained treatment and have had years of nothing. This is a standard obstacle in any metropolitan city that many business owners face. They found a little activity and I have been and am willing to do everything I can to combat it. We are committed to repairing the situation, learning, and keeping our community safe. “
Krejcik also adds that she initially rejected the offer of the health inspection as it wasn’t something they could legally do, noting that restaurants cannot be health inspected more than once in two months and they were inspected with an A rating one month prior. Stating, “It would be further disruptive to the business and the food I needed to get out immediately, the restaurant was entirely full. This was my mistake and what largely led to a revocation of our permit.
“People don’t understand what business owners are faced with on a daily basis, to just try to keep their doors open and watch the big corporations get all the money while we’re getting next to nothing. The Palms community has room for us and wants us here and we’re crazy about it! We’re dying to reopen.”
C&M is currently undergoing extensive refurbishments, including floor resurfacing, equipment removal, ceiling repair and retiling, painting the interior. “I know a lot of local business owners and there is a lot of camaraderie and support amongst us- We think it’s sad to see, people are so angry and lashing out. Everyone is so stressed out and dealing with so much, it’s so easy to attack and look for the negative, instead of supporting each other.”
Krejcik has expressed frustration at the combination of the pandemic, 8 break-ins during VODI alone, landlord troubles and an outdated building to maintain, lack of product availability and pricing increases. “They are just killing business owners. Unless we get this cycle turned around, the C&M’s of the world are not going to be here anymore. The businesses that are still out there after COVID, they are facing the hardest time that’s ever been, I guarantee it, and they need community support. People don’t know how much goes on behind the scenes, I feel like I’m in the fight of my life just trying to keep our doors open and my crew working and all of our families fed.”