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.
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.