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Economy Creams Coffee House

The oldest coffee shop in Temecula closed its doors today due to slow business and a disagreement with a landlord.


After 22 years in business, Sweet Bean, Temecula's oldest coffee house, closed its doors today.

People crowded into the shop on Rancho California Road for one last latte and a slice of cake during a going away party at 4 p.m.

Though the owners declined to comment on why it was closing, a note taped to a counter near the register explained it was due sluggish business and a disagreement with the landlord.

"We cannot talk about (the closing) as there may be legal matters pending and our attorney has informed us not to discuss the relationship with the landlord," the note read. "We are closing due to high rent and we have not had sufficient business to support the operation for some time."

Customers milled around sipping their drinks and eating cake, and a white poster board sat on one of the cafe tables covered in loving goodbye messages.

Sweat Bean may have been one of the last four independent coffee houses left in the city. Only Olivera's Coffee & Juice Bar, Ryan's Brother's Coffee and California Tea and Coffee remain. Another independent coffee shop, , closed only a few months ago.

RELATED: Temecula's independent coffee houses have been dropping like flies in the last few years.

A group of regulars sat outside enjoying one last cup of iced tea as the party drew to a close.

"I physically don't know what I'm going to do on Saturdays," said Jessica Kolski, who has been going to the coffee house with a few friends for several years each Saturday after a power walk. "The only thing that gets us up the hill is knowing we have tea and toast coming."

One woman remembered going to Sweat Bean three years ago and meeting the co-owner, Debbie Johnson. "I said, 'I need runners toast,' and she said, 'Oh, you're pregnant.' And I was," said Tara Fox and she sat in the patio cradling her baby.

The place will be greatly missed, said Sonya Collins. "On Saturday, when we saw that note (on the door saying the store was closing), and we said, 'Where are we going to go now?' and nobody knew," Collins said.

Bernice Beja April 13, 2012 at 06:41 PM
The first place we went for ce cream when we moved to temecula 14 years ago.
Rancher Bill April 13, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Alas! Alas! Farewell Sweet Bean, Parting is mournful sorrow. Farewell and soar! You will always remain in the hearts of Temeculans, Those will be the finest of times recalled.
Daniel Lane April 13, 2012 at 07:55 PM
This place will be missed. Maybe they can work it out with the landlord and reopen.
Christine Crawford April 13, 2012 at 08:46 PM
The Sweet Bean was here in town way before any Starbucks came in. It is sad that the Landlord let Albertson's put in a Starbucks to take away from the Sweet Bean business. That is when things started to change.
Ken April 13, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Yes and the lemurs who stand in line for an over caffeinated over roasted over sweetened over priced coffee beverage..We can still support the Ryan Bros and the California Coffee and tea..
Marti Treckman April 14, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I'm sad that Sweet Bean is closing after 22 years. It opened just about the same time we moved here, and we loved it, as it was in the closest shopping center to us. We lived out at Glenoaks Rd & De Portola, next to Glenoak Hills. I remember one day I was going to town (it was about 12 miles), and I found myself following the Sweet Bean owners’ truck all the way in. The longer I followed, the hungrier I got for one of their delicious yogurt cones. I wasn’t planning to go there that day, but it was like the Piped Piper, and there I was! I don’t get there as often now that I moved to Murrieta, but I’ll always remember the great times there.
Diane Walden April 14, 2012 at 03:29 AM
As an owner of one of the remaining independents mentioned above, California Tea & Coffee Brewery, I also remember Sweet Bean when we moved here 25 years ago and used to go for ice cream after walking our dog at the Sports Park. So sorry to hear this. We've been open close to 4 years on the other side of town and have seen so many coffee places close in that time in Temecula, including 3 Starbucks. I also remember when Cafe Bravo was in the Mall and originally called Shivers & Jitters(?) before Starbucks took over their space. That used to be a wonderful local place as well!
Cik Bast April 14, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Seriously!? The human community side of me says that this is utter bullsh&t; I enjoyed their sandwiches and fresh tomatoes on their BLT's and taking my daughter there to hang for a bit as we ran errands. The capitalist and business-minded side of me says tough-sh&t, unfortunately. The over-regulation of small business by liberal government, costly over-regulation by the same to line the pockets of the legislature and local government and that combined with the market spoke, and SB was on the losing end. Just you watch. Stew's Barbershop is next. It'll happen.
Andy April 14, 2012 at 10:51 PM
You all are surprised? This is only the beginning! Much more closures of small businesses to come. The economy will not be improving anytime soon.
Mimi April 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM
How sad I am to hear this news! The Johnson family is so amazing and it breaks my heart that this has fallen upon them!
Ken April 15, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Not surprised just sad..I like the beach area where the community supports the local businesses.
stef April 15, 2012 at 08:28 AM
I just don't understand the landlord's reasoning behind so many vacancies and not negotiating a workable deal. Maybe they have something up their sleeve with the (I hear) fish/crab house moving into the old Presto's location. I wish the owners the very best. Debbie and her staff were always so cheerful and welcoming. We hope to see you in another location, but enjoy a couple of weeks off first!
Carole Masson April 15, 2012 at 05:30 PM
It is very sad when another hard working person has their business fail due to an unreasonable commercial renting system. When you rent a commercial unit, you do not have the same rights as a home tenant. The bus. landlord often demands a portion of your bus., a 7 yr. lease and raises the rent each year regardless of the economy. I can't see with all the empty units, that making this bus. leave will provide anything unless the owner can write it off or is collecting some kick back somewhere. So sad. :(
jolt April 15, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Wow, very sorry to hear this. I must admit I have not been able to show full support for The Sweet Bean but I did try to go about 1 time a week, looking back I guess it should have been more. Truly have never seen a business that concentrated on total customer service like this one! Employees here were obviously trained in the art of "customer service" which is almost a lost art.
temeculan April 16, 2012 at 02:28 AM
This is what "broke" feels like people. And...your democrat (insert name) wants to raise taxes on the folks that make these businesses work. All your "California- pension-for-life" public union folks sucking the life out of California can make us all a cup of coffee!
SPB April 16, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Just as long as you guys stay open Diane!
trenchf00t April 16, 2012 at 06:58 PM
We stand in line at Starbucks to pay 20% less for coffee that's 60% as good and are sad or surprised when local joints close down? The Walmart mentality has doomed this country to bankruptcy. Getting something for less leaves us awash in cheap foreign goods with our treasure living overseas. A friendly smile and better product is worth way more than the whatever-% more you are paying. It keeps our treasure here where it belongs and our future secure. We will only realize it when it's too late.
Ken April 16, 2012 at 08:11 PM
agree with trnchf00t Wallmart mentality for sure..If you spent any time in Europe it is a whole different mentality. Don't even get me started on the meat story or GMO food that is allowed here. Illy coffee is yummy there and doesnt burn a whole in my stomach like the starbucks brand does.
Jim April 17, 2012 at 12:42 AM
What a sad day. I remember when Richard and Susan first opened the Sweet Bean.They use to stay open on Friday nights after the high school football games, it was a great place to rehash the games. It was always a place to meet friends and make new ones. Sorry Debbie that you are having to close up, you will be missed greatly. jimbo
Sandra Handzlik April 19, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Our family will miss our regular family meetings on Sunday morning (kids and grandkids) and we are sad to see the Sweet Bean close. We have been going to the Sweet Bean almost every Sunday since the late 90s. With that said and having owned a muffin/coffee shop in the early 90s for four years we understand how difficult it is to run a small business--there is only so much you can charge for a muffin/pastry and coffee but the expenses keep going up produced by city/county/state/federal government, the landlord, energy prices and labor prices. Having been in this type of business before we were not surprised that the Sweet Bean closed as we had noticed changes in the store--little or no pastry in the display case at 9:30 am--no product no money. Also, in the afternoon everything was covered and put away as if they were closing for the day. The last two months of going to the Sweet Bean we had to purchase pastry from the donut store as there was little or no pastry in the display case. Do not blame Starbucks as it is the economy. Starbucks has had to close stores also. And remember Starbucks started as a small business (one store in Seattle) in the 1970s and with a great business plan and grew--it did not just come down from Mars as a big business. We want all businesses to succeed, including Starbucks, but our family prefers to support independent coffee shops so we are searching. Any ideas?
Ken April 19, 2012 at 08:58 PM
We can still support the Ryan Bros and the California Coffee and tea..
Mike Mueller April 21, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Why Kim? I am assuming you think by supporting local small independent business it is better for the local people? Actually a similar size coffee house that is a national brand would hire more people than an independent outfit. More production, more jobs. Then they also have bigger budgets and allows them to sponsor local schools and events that smaller shops cant afford. The only winner when you shop local is the owners - No One Else. It sounds great to want to support your local business, but do it for the right reasons that make sense.
Mike Mueller April 21, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I wish they would have let us know sooner so we could have came together as a community to save them. Hopefully they will re-open somewhere else.
Mike Mueller April 21, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Yeah, because as Americans we dont have a choice, we HAVE to got to Starbucks. Starbucks didnt put them out of business, other factors did.
Mike Mueller April 21, 2012 at 10:52 PM
I first went there 15 years ago and liked it. Its not close to me anymore, but regardless I never see any ads from them anywhere. Sad.
Mike Mueller April 21, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Stay strong Diane, you also have a great shop. Ill be in to enjoy a coffee tomorrow.
Mike Mueller April 21, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Ha Ha Ha - As you type your comment on a computer made over seas.
Mike Mueller April 21, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Spot on Sandra. Great Comment! Starbucks is not to blame, and they were 1 tiny coffee shop once too.
jolt April 29, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Mike, I think you might just have the wrong opinion, of whose actually making money in a small business, for sure it's in most cases, probably not the owners. Most small business owners would beg to differ with you. Yes, I'm sure there are some at the top of the heap but sadly most are struggling from day to day. You ask why then do they do it? They are all probably asking themselves on a daily bases this same question. Answer might be trying to chase that all mighty American dream of owning something and working themselves to death to try to achieve it. Barely making enough to squeak by, I am sure that is why most of us do not chose to do this. I don't know about you but I would not like to have all my time and days accounted for just serving others, treated by some poorly, yelled at about just about everything, and really unable to please most . Yeah that sounds like the dream job that's why only some can do this kind of work too bad its only for the wonderful comments left on a page like this. Go on and support those small local chains now that's what Temecula is really built on!
Ashley Thompson June 11, 2013 at 07:43 PM
I was born and raised in Temecula, and moved up to Seattle about 7 years ago. I still went to Sweet Bean every time I was in town, and they still knew me by name and drink. I miss their IBMS and cinnamon coffee cake muffins. Definitely took a little bit of the home out of going home to visit.

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