Maybe it is a quarter-life crisis, but I doubt it. Morgan Maassen just does things differently than most. At the ripe old age of 25, the Santa Barbara native has purposely pulled the e-brake on his meteoric and multifaceted rise through the glamorous and globe-trotting ranks of “people who make a living with a camera.” Now he’s shifted his focus to the steamy morning rituals of the folks in his hometown. Specifically? Breakfast.
But Maassen, with old friend and former Handlebar Coffee Roasters manager Tosh Clements as his partner in crime, has stuffed the whole traditional breakfast concept right on through Alice’s looking glass, done away with the food (mostly), given it a capital “B,” added a bold dash of art, installed a super sexy roll-up glass garage door, and turned it into a high-test culture club on the 700 block of Chapala.
“Originally, we wanted to do a street-wear fashion line, but instead it somehow turned into coffee and this,” explained Maassen recently, his arms gesturing matter-of-factly toward the bustling, shiny white, and smartly remodeled building behind him that was once home to a rundown tint shop, an insurance office, and a barbershop. The space made my modern-architect wife “ooh” and “aah” and say vague, architect-y things like “clean” and “elegant yet utilitarian” upon entering it for the first time. I, on the other hand, am immediately impressed that there is a water dish and free biscuits for dogs as well as comfy couches and tea mugs that are entirely devoid of handles.
First takes aside, what Maassen and Clements and crew are really up to is about more than just reimagining your morning routine and offering you an aesthetically pleasing and centrally located place to get caffeinated. Breakfast does these things well with cappuccinos and Americanos and chai teas, as tasty and hipster-approved as anywhere in town. They even flirt with actual real-life breakfast options, such as fresh daily goodies from Helena Avenue Bakery and monstrously delicious vegan donuts from Yuko Walters at Good Stuff Bakery.
But it is in the bigger picture view where the true import of Breakfast really begins to take shape. The place is purpose-built to be one big community clubhouse for the youthful creatives of the 805. There is a carefully curated retail space seamlessly folded in, select artisanal surfboards for sale, hard-to-find art books, gallery-worthy wall space featuring a rotating assortment of artists from around the world, and plans for everything from outdoor movie nights and magazine-release parties to ping-pong tournaments and live music.
The idea, says Maassen, is to use Breakfast as a platform for showcasing and connecting artists both near and far. After all, Breakfast was a popular Instagram handle and fine-art website long before the coffee house on Chapala was ever conceived. “The space and concept were both designed to be super malleable. I want it to be able to change based on needs,” explained Maassen, who will be hosting his first art opening, XST, on Friday, June 24, 7-10 p.m. “Growing up here, there was no real art scene or gathering place that felt accessible to me and my friends. I want to change that for the next generation of kids coming up.”
Open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; 711 Chapala Street; breakfastcultureclub.com