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Hot Coffee and a Tall, Cool One--Mitch

June 02, 1995|MAKI BECKER

The Santa Clarita Valley has itself a well-kept secret.

Mitch's Java 'n Jazz Coffee House has become a hot spot for espresso drinks, live jazz and blues, and quality lounging. In a cove of boutiques housed in yellow Victorian-style buildings, Mitch's is a spacious, European-style cafe with three zones for hanging out: an outdoor patio equipped with heat lamps for when the weather is cold, tables surrounding the espresso bar and stage, and an upstairs loft with couches and bookshelves.

There's live entertainment every night, ranging from straight-ahead jazz to blues jams that draw local musicians just about every Sunday night.

MITCH: It's hard to miss Mitch McMullen, a towering 6-foot, 10-inch former professional basketball player. Two years ago, Mitch and wife Kathy, both 29, returned to their hometown of Newhall after living in France, where Mitch played professional basketball. The McMullens decided that the area needed a coffeehouse where the local young people could hang out.

THE MUSIC: Mitch's presents a 50-50 split of local and out-of-town talent for the nightly shows. Among the regulars is Blue Caboose, a band of Cal State Northridge students who play great, somewhat fusion-influenced, jazz two or three times a month.

THE SCENE: It's a warm, friendly place that attracts the college-age-and-over crowd. The coffeehouse has antiqued wood floors, floor lamps and a mellow ambience. The coffee drinks are top of the line, and there are always yummy little cookies and cakes to be had.

THE GOOD: Mitch's provides live entertainment at one of the only places where the main drink of the house is not a blue tropical drink. Instead, Mitch's serves everything from lattes to low-fat espresso milkshakes. This cafe is open until 1 a.m. and is a great meeting place for everyone from business folks to twentysomethings.

THE BAD: If you're a minor, you have to bring your mom. After 6 p.m., Mitch has a rule that no one younger than 18 is allowed in without a parent.

THE WORD: USC student Sarah Trudell, 21, sips coffee with two college friends, Teresa Besch and Andie Bensky, also 21, on the patio recently. She says she's brought her friends to show them there is life north of Sunset Boulevard. "I've come here ever since it opened," Trudell says. "As far as coffeehouses, a lot of them in L. A. are really trendy and pretentious," Besch says, adding that she feels that Mitch's hasn't fallen prey to that. "It's pretty," Bensky says. "It looks like New Orleans or something. It's quaint."

Mitch's Java 'n Jazz Coffee House, 22722 Lyons Ave. , Newhall. Open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday. Occasional entertainment cover charge. Call (805) 254-7500.

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