From Bean Queen to Gjelina
It is always sunny in SoCal.
By Dani Ilel
With intro by Shelley Kleyn Armistead
As Gjelina Group stepped into the world of delivery apps in 2020, so too our relationship with delivery drivers expanded. There was a moment during that year where it felt like everyone was trying their hand at this much needed service — be it on foot, a bike, electric scooter, car and in this case of this story — a vespa. As our direct contact with our customers decreased, the drivers became the conduit between us.
While many temporary drivers moved on, Dani, along with a handful of other humans, still turn up each day at Gjusta or GTA. These people who are now another layer in the world of hospitality have their own stories, of their experiences dealing with restaurants, the customer, and the faceless employer that is the world of tech, within this otherwise human facing industry.
I moved to Venice in 1994 from Orange County. I have seen the changes in Venice since then, and I have mixed feelings. I just loved living in Venice — it was an artist’s city: rents were cheap, the residents were artists, musicians and inspiring actors.
I remember when the first real coffee shop opened at Park place. Bean Queen was in an alley, and it was a meeting place for Venetians in the morning. The coffee was strong and the croissants were fresh. It was a great place to meet my friends — we all knew each other.
At this time, the dog park was known as Hooker Hill, Town House and The Brig were dive bars, and Roosterfish was a gay bar.
Then came the gentrification. Abbot Kinney became trendy, rents and property values went high, artists moved out, and you know the rest.
I retired from my job in 2015. I just did not want to go to an office and deal with people anymore, but I was not ready to stay home. I started to work for a delivery company. I had a Vespa and I thought it would be great to be out and enjoy riding around. It is always sunny in SoCal.
This is the time I discovered Gjusta, a New York style delicatessen. At first, it was crazy — it was an instant success, and there was not much seating, it was always crowded, and people had to take numbers to get served.
Delivery demand went through the roof during Covid, and Gjusta adjusted quickly and made it easier and faster for us.
Another favorite for me is Gjelina Take Away. I get my coffee and pastries in the morning, and also pick up deliveries from them. They are also the favorite of a lot of locals.
Some of Dani’s favorite highlights around Venice, including snapshots along the Venice Boardwalk, Muscle Beach, and Westminster Ave: