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Six months after renting the space, Tellman opened the coffee bar as a way to attract people to the store. She built a wall to separate the bar from her living space, which included a bed, couch, coffee table, and lots of clothes. Customers had to walk through there to get to the restrooms.
Shortly after opening the coffee bar, Tellman was approached by Debra Clark, a teacher at Hollywood Hills High School. Clark was looking for a place to showcase student poetry, and Tellman agreed to volunteer her space. Unfortunately there wasn't much space. Clark asked where the stage would be.
"I looked around at the front window and said, 'Right there,'" recalls Tellman, "because that was the only available space I could think of." Clark brought her students, and the poetry readings, known as Poetry Art Works (PAW), were held in the window while a crowd of several dozen students watched from the street. Music was also included, with students playing acoustic guitars between poems. The readings were scheduled for the last Saturday of every month and have occurred on that day ever since. PAW recently held its 33rd reading at Warehaus 57.
The success of PAW sparked the interest of other creative types, who approached Tellman with ideas. FIU's graduate writing program, for instance, began to hold readings there, and local musicians helped turn Warehaus 57 into a new live-music venue. Acts such as Dharma Blue, Michael Judge, Stephan Mikes, Tory Voodoo, and Rene Alvarez have played there. Current regulars include Amereida, Kelly Dolan, Zac, China Doll, and Big Blue Sky. The cafe became known as a regular outlet for local acoustic, folk, and world-beat artists.
"There weren't any places in downtown Hollywood for acoustic musicians to play," notes Tellman. "The window was perfect for that, and it started attracting more people to come in, and I said, 'OK, this is something I'd like to have.'"
Tellman, who has three part-time employees, now plans to concentrate more on fashion design. "The store and the events became my creative outlet," she explains. "I always have to have something creative, where the energy comes out. Warehaus 57 wound up evolving from people's collective mentality. Now everything's going pretty smooth, and I can get back to filling the store with my things."
Though excited about the store's current direction, Tellman did receive a minor setback recently in the form of a significant rent increase. With the successful opening of O'Hara's directly across the street, Hollywood's revitalization seems to be on target. Tellman maintains hope that she can continue to reap the benefits of increased business without falling victim to the area's success.
"Everybody saw what happened in South Beach," she says. "When you revitalize, there are smaller stores that get bumped out because they can't afford it. I was absolutely shocked when I saw the increase, it was bigger than I expected. But I was able to make it."
She adds, "I hope that Hollywood can keep its Village-y feel. That's all I've known it to be since I moved here, and that comes from my customers, too. The beauty of Hollywood is that it still is one of the last downtowns, and it should be kept that way.