What: Bodega Los Alamos
Where: Los Alamos, California
Style: Modern farmhouse
Three hours north of Los Angeles there's a quaint Central Coast town quickly earning a reputation as "Little L.A." — Los Alamos. Here, the main drag isn't Sunset or Wilshire, but Bell Street — a handful of small-town blocks dotted with ever-more interesting places to wine, dine, and spend time, just off the 101 Freeway.
One key inspiration for the look and feel is the sort of upstate New York retreat familiar to the three couples who launched Bodega Los Alamos earlier this summer — Alana and Kristopher Stipech, of Brooklyn, New York; George and April Garcia of San Luis Obispo; and Cory and Lauren O'Keefe, of nearby Arroyo Grande.
The various buildings on the lot date back to the 1920s, but feel of-the-moment with the help of crisp black and white paint, modern fencing, lighting, and fresh, understated landscaping. The group took what was there — a small retail space in the front, a greenhouse, and an ample open-air space framed by mature oak trees — and remade it with one ethos in mind: It should feel like an extension of their own backyards. So there are long communal tables. There's a bocce court and corn hole. A fire pit. Plenty of room to relax over a carafe of local wine or craft beer, or food from nearby Bell's, a similarly new dining establishment opened by alums of Per Se.
"We wanted it to feel like an elevated version of itself," says O'Keefe. "And to pay homage to what it used to be."
Their collective talent — across design, architecture, photography, and marketing — helped bring the mixed-used space to fruition in an impressive three months.
"It had been vacant for a while," says O'Keefe, now the on-site managing partner. The property even had the original outhouse. "We had to really paint the vision for everybody in the group of what it could be."
The result? A true gathering place. "It was always the goal but we were still surprised how the the space draws people together, for strangers to get to know each other," says O'Keefe.