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Our neighborhood spot, Jane Q, has a lot going for it.

First of all, it’s only a few blocks away — a six-minute walk from our doorstep to theirs. The second thing is — get this — dogs are allowed inside.

There are a lot of good reasons to go to Jane Q, and I’ve only named a couple of them, so let me name some more.

Mike and Azzy by the gorgeous window at JaneQ. I took this pic when we were here for the first time. They have since rearranged some of the furniture and the pool table, but this is probably my favorite setup here.

They open at 6am. Not that I’ve ever personally been there at 6am, or even plan on it, but it’s still good to know. Also, every single person I have ever interacted with on the staff is fabulous. Even the valet walked up to my door like a friend. It’s like they check everybody’s DNA before they end up with these awesome people.

Let’s get back to the dog part, because that part is major for somebody in my situation. As soon as I found out that not only are dogs allowed but that they are allowed inside, I knew I had to check it out.

The pool table at its current location. Sometimes it’s by the east-facing window.

Then, a little bit of time passed, and we kind of forgot about it. Then one day I got some bad news, and I really wanted a stiff one. Mike took pity on me and said he was going to take me somewhere we’ve never been before. We weren’t coming from home, so he absentmindedly drove over there (men!) and parked in the valet lot (Jane Q is part of the Everly Hotel in Hollywood, a stone’s throw from Hollywood and Vine). We were parked before we fully realized how close it really was. 

So through the door we went. The part on the ground floor is what I would say is the main part of the restaurant. That’s where the open kitchen is — so no dogs are allowed down there. We were told by a super-friendly employee that we were welcome to hang out with Azzy upstairs, and to just order from downstairs and someone would bring it up to us.

It happened to be happy hour — their happy hour is seven days a week and runs from 3 to 6pm. The upstairs is pretty laid-back. There are couches, some cozy armchairs and a few tables where people with furrowed brows sat on their laptops. There was a gorgeous double-height window that took up the entire west-facing wall where you could look out over the random happenings in Hollywood while you play a game of pool. There is a large, south-facing window as well. All in all, it was a really relaxed, bright, welcoming environment. There was a kind of serene, peaceful vibe to it, everybody we encountered there was great, and I really liked it right away. 

The bar starts mixing it up at 4:30pm.

The happy hour menu features a few really tasty gin concoctions (and I don’t even like gin), a couple of wines, and a couple of appy-type snacks. We sat on a couple of couches next to the bar, which opens at 4:30pm, and Azzy got lots of love and attention — I think he even got some leftovers.

So that was our first happy hour experience there. We’ve gone a few more times, and I keep meaning to go for brunch. Jane Q’s “brunch” is from 6am to 3pm, so it’s not like I have any excuse. Next time … .

This last week when we went, Mike and I (and Azzy, of course) decided to walk over for some coffee. Like I said, it’s a very short walk, and it’s just a matter of passing the food truck, going under the freeway and out the other side. And then we cross at the freeway onramp, and we’re there.

This time, we saw a bunch of city vehicles parked in front of the homeless encampment. It looked like they were there to do their regular sweep of the tents in the neighborhood. I am not sure where these people go after the area gets swept, but they come back after a week or two, and the whole thing starts all over again. I’m not telling city leaders how to do their jobs, but this operation seems like a Sisyphean task to me.  It just doesn’t look like any kind of solution when you live here and see the same pattern playing out over and over.

I’ve also wondered what happens if the owners of the tents aren’t around during the sweep. Does all of it get confiscated? Do they lose everything? This time, the encampment had been minimal, and all the items that had been lifted out of the dirt were neatly folded and stacked on the sidewalk. When we were walking back a few hours later, the items were still there, along with some abandoned suitcases on the side of the onramp. Someone was sweeping the now-bare mound of dirt behind a chain-link fence that once propped a community, soon to return from who knows where.

I’ve read that the city opened a new shelter last month, not too far from here. I hope that’s helping. I don’t think it’s enough to accommodate the demand, but it’s a step in the right direction. And I heard residents get to keep their dogs with them there! I think people are slowly changing their assumptions about dogs and recognizing how important they are to us. Azzy even stopped to relieve himself right next to one of the workers by the onramp, and he just smiled.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about as we made our way past the city workers to get to Jane Q, and also how “the job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” One of my mentors repeated that quote when I worked at a newspaper, and it has always stayed with me. I don’t literally think about newspapers now — newspapers have become a shell of their former selves — but I think about journalism and social media in general, and I will always be a journalist at heart looking for a story. (The quote is too long to explain here, but the beauty of the internet is that it’s super-easy to find out where it comes from!)

OK, so we get to Jane Q, and Azzy immediately lets out his trademark Chewbacca growl to let everyone know he’s here. I don’t know what else to call it but to say that he sounds exactly like Chewbacca and makes that sound as a form of greeting around people he likes. We are heading straight upstairs and won’t even linger in this area, but I guess he just can’t help himself and has to let it all out as he trots up the stairs.

My favorite spot by the huge window is occupied, so we take a seat near the pool table. Azzy takes up his usual spot that he likes to claim whenever we go out with him — under the table. But the excitement of being in a spot with new people is just too much for him: He stretches out as far out as his body will allow him and hangs his tongue out, his tail wagging steadily from side to side like a metronome.

Mike goes downstairs to get me a cappuccino, and I settle into my cozy chair and tell Azzy what a good boy he is. Then I see a woman coming up the stairs, and Azzy starts walking in her direction as far as his leash will let him go (we give him a lot of leash slack when we have to tie him to a table here because there is so much open, expansive floor space between tables). She asks me if she can give him a treat, and I see that she’s holding a bowl full of treats. No wonder my boy was so enamored of her! I look over and see her gorgeous Australian shepherd sitting in the window. Every time we’re here, I only see one or two other dogs — if that. It’s never swarming with them or anything.

‘I can haz cookeez?’

I think a lot of the people who are with here with dogs — and generally those casually dressed individuals who are lurking around here at this hour in general — are guests at the Everly. I have never stayed here, nor have I even seen any of the rooms aside from what’s on their website, but I am recommending it just based on proximity alone (unless I’m trying to avoid you). And the views from most of the rooms (that I’ve seen from the photos) are absolutely stunning. And for people who have never been to Hollywood and really want to do some sightseeing, it really can’t be beat.

I’m super Olde School, and I seriously wouldn’t be caught dead in this neighborhood when I was growing up. I merely passed it from the safety of my vehicle on my way to school and would occasionally stop at the gas station that I can now see from my living room window. But it’s definitely changed now. There are cranes as far as the eye can see, much to my son’s delight. All of a sudden, Sasha’s become interested in architecture and big buildings — definitely a step up from the swamp we emerged from.

So this woman and her family come near where we were sitting in order to play a game of pool, and she starts chatting about how she’s from Hollywood but lives in San Diego now and occasionally comes back to visit. It’s a pretty good place for them to stay because it’s right in Hollywood and right near the freeway, and, of course, there’s the dogs-allowed part. Azzy, for his part, dutifully comes up to them and plops down on the floor and exposes his belly for rubs and scratches. So they start rubbing Azzy’s belly while he hams it up for the camera. That dog’s got a good life!

So Mike (my promoter!) starts telling her about my blog, and she proceeds to give me a bunch of intel about dog-friendly places and beaches in the greater San Diego area, and then she even told me about some places in L.A. that I wasn’t familiar with. Very productive outing!

So I drain my tasty cappuccino and feel like I don’t want to leave just yet. I was going to bring my laptop, but I just didn’t feel like schlepping it around, even for a short walk.

Then I remembered something: The last time I was here, they were pouring some sort of rosemary coffee. Mike saw it on a chalkboard and had mentioned it to me, since we both love rosemary. Problem is I just downed a cappuccino, but what the hey? The cappuccino wasn’t huge or anything, and there was still plenty of time before we needed to pick our kiddo up.

When I first met my husband many moons ago, he told me to put a sprig of rosemary in my coffee to help me remember my dreams, and I have been a fan ever since. What Jane Q was serving was actually rosemary with orange. Even better. I decided to have this one on ice.

Sooooo good!

Y’ALL. The iced orange-rosemary coffee is bomb. I usually add a dash of some sort of sweetener to my caffeine, but this has the perfect whisper of sweetness. It is blissfully subtle, and it imparts an undertone that my taste buds have never experienced before. Just a soft hint to take the edge off. Rosemary isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’re into it, this potion is a must-have.

By now, my window spot had become vacant, so we moved over by the window and I spent the next hour in total euphoria while Azzy made friends with a delightful little German shepherd-chow mix. This dog was so into him that it even wore Azzy out. He retired under the table while this dog paced excitedly around him giving him her bedroom eyes.

When Azzy gets totally disinterested in everything around him, that is our cue to go. Plus, this is a family-friendly place, and I wasn’t totally sure what that other dog had in mind … .

I extracted every last drop of my drink and we headed out, passing the freeway underpass, sidestepping the mound of dirt that somehow escaped the city worker’s broom, walking by the neatly folded pile of possessions and on to our little concrete oasis in Hollywood.

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