A familiar storyline is often shared in gentrifying neighborhoods about how all the change got started. At some point, it usually involves a cute little café. In Highland Park, California, it’s a place called Café de Leche, which opened in 2008.
The café has also become a favorite target of disgruntled old-timers. They have tagged it with words like “gentrifier,” posted symbolic “eviction notices” to its door and managed to get an expletive directed at hipsters to pop up on laptops used at the café.
This story is not about Café de Leche, or any master plan of its owners. Instead, this story is about the much larger and much less visible network of professionals who surround Café de Leche, and who do make changing neighborhoods their business – a very lucrative one.