A Westwood juice bar remains closed after locking its doors at least two months ago.
Qwench Juice Bar, located at the intersection of Gayley Avenue and Weyburn Avenue, opened its doors in June but quietly went dark by the new year. A note on the front door reassured customers the juicery would only be closed for the day, but the note remained for weeks and was only recently removed.
Although a Yelp listing claims the Westwood location is scheduled to reopen in April, the Westwood Qwench is no longer listed on the corporate website. Qwench or its Westwood franchise owner did not respond in time for publication.
Michael Skiles, president of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, said Qwench opened in Westwood Village several years after The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a local Starbucks competitor, closed its branch at that location.
He said he thinks Qwench closed because of insufficient business.
“For years the space was empty as this business was trying to get permitted and get all the requisite approval … and it finally opened in June,” Skiles said. “(Qwench) just never created the buzz that would have been the hallmark of a successful business.”
Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said the closing of Qwench seems to be a part of the natural life cycle of a business and added that he does not think its closing indicates any larger trend of businesses closing in the Village.
“I know that we do lose businesses, but we also gain them,” Thomas said. “I think that’s just a very normal turn in the economy … (and) any commercial district is going to have turnover.”
Sophia Liu, a first-year aerospace engineering student, said she once got a smoothie at Qwench while on a grocery run and noticed she was the only customer there.
“It was pretty average,” Liu said. “This nice girl rang me up and gave me my smoothie pretty quickly. I was the only one in the shop at that point and she was the only one working.”
Qwench’s closing did not upset her, Liu said. She added that she believes Pressed Juicery on Kinross Avenue gets a lot more business, contributing to Qwench’s closing.
“It’s pretty much the same, your run-of-the-mill smoothie place,” Liu said. “I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse than anywhere else. I’ve actually heard that Qwench has good acai though, so I’m sure people who were into that are going to miss it.”
Several businesses, such as Yamato, have closed down to the dismay of community members only to be replaced by businesses that are now successful, Thomas added.
“I know Yamato had been with us forever, we lost them, some people were sad, and then we got the Broxton brewpub, which has been amazing,” Thomas said. “We lost this Mongolian barbecue place that was on Gayley (Avenue) … and then Northern Cafe moved in and they’ve become so successful they have two other locations that are either open or opening.”
Skiles said Westwood is a competitive market, like most places, and it is important for new businesses to generate excitement and successfully occupy a niche in the economy, Skiles said.
“You need to get a lot of buzz (and) you often need to run promotions to get people in,” Skiles said. “Some restaurants that are franchises get that instant buzz of customers in the door because other restaurants around (Los Angeles) are known and liked and people are excited that they have their own in Westwood.”
Although Qwench is a franchise with several LA locations, Skiles said he thinks the store did not benefit from the franchise name because it was likely not well known in Westwood. He added that he thinks Qwench should have worked to promote its business more.
“Their only hope of getting customers to go there, as opposed to the other juiceries, is to be doing things like going to the Westwood block party and giving out samples to students,” Skiles said. “(Qwench) was not at the party.”
Contributing reports by Eve Gross-Sable, Daily Bruin contributor.