Next week, on Thursday, Jan. 3, Zweet Station will celebrate its first anniversary. To thank its customers, Eagle Rock’s only candy, ice cream, coffee, smoothie, juices and vintage soda store will be offering free Colombian coffee throughout January.
Starting in February, Zweet Station will host an open mike every other month. “A lot of Oxy students have talents and they want to show them,” says storeowner Jun Alejo. "So we’re going to put a stage in the driveway and everyone can just walk in and tell a joke or be a comedian.”
Between the open mike months, on every third Saturday, Alejo will organize movie nights for children and other entertainment such as puppet shows, as he did regularly this year.
Eagle Rock Patch stopped by at Zweet Station on Thursday to ask Alejo how he fared during the store’s first year and about his connections to Eagle Rock.
Here’s what he told Patch:
“Business has been good. It’s not bad for a first year—I can’t complain—we’re happy, although our expectations were higher. There’s always a gestation period in any business. People are beginning to know us. Oxy students love it [the store]—they come here every night. We offered them free coffee last month and this month during their finals. They would come here and study. We have free wi-fi. We’ve done a lot of improvements to the storefront. We’ve opened up the windows—the store is much more inviting. We put tables and chairs in the front as well as a little bit of music outside.
“From 1989 to 2000, we lived right behind Eagle Rock Plaza, on El Roble Drive. Now we live in Glendale. I like it here, but there are no homes available on Hill Drive. We moved because a dream house became available in Glendale. Although there are big lots behind Eagle Rock Plaza, it’s a hilly area and there are a lot of dormant lots you cannot use.
“Our house on El Roble was on a lot that was about 7,000 square feet. We bought an existing house, a small house that was about 600 square feet. We demolished it and built a new house. We had to level half of the lot to build the house. But the rest we couldn’t use because it was a hill. You couldn’t build a house on top of it unless you spent a lot of money on the foundation. That’s the only problem in that particular area.
“I was born in the Philippines and went to high school and college in Michigan. I moved to L.A. in 1982 and [initially] lived in Glendale. I used to have a carpet store, called Alga, on Colorado Boulevard, on the block next to the Bank of America. I opened the store in 1983. But about two years ago we decided to go wholesale. We’re not open to the public anymore and moved all our products to a warehouse in San Pedro. Now we supply to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Orchard Supply Hardware, Ikea.
“This [Zweet Station] used to be a showroom for the floor [carpet store]. But since we decided to go wholesale, and because I love root beers, we opened this place. Root beers are my hobby—my love. I like to drink root beer. Before, I used to buy root beers from all over the world because I like to keep them. And my wife said, Why don’t you open a root beer store and do what you like to do most?
“Most of the root beers that we have are made out of sugar cane. They don’t have fructose. I’m not going to say they’re very healthy—there’s still sugar in it. The nice thing about it is that we bring in products from all over the world. Our Number One seller is from Germany. We bring in some root beers from Russia. We have root beers from about eight or nine countries.”