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San Fernando Valley : Trouble Was Brewing, so Coffeehouse Went Exclusive

August 18, 1995

Just what we've been waiting for: a coffeehouse with gold card private membership and maybe valet parking.

The Insomnia Cafe, which annoyed its Sherman Oaks neighbors for more than three years with its late hours and noisy customers, is converting to a private, members-only coffeehouse as of today, owner John Dunn said in a surprise announcement Thursday.

The often-defiant Dunn did an about-face Thursday, expressing regret for the headaches that his clientele have caused nearby residents, and saying that the members-only concept was intended to screen out the troublemaking element.

"I got really tired of the crowd that was there, too," Dunn said.

Residents had complained for years that teen-agers loitered in the cafe's rear parking lot and playing Hacky Sack in front of the coffeehouse.

As of today, only people with a membership card will be admitted. Dunn said he has handed out about 2,000 of the slick-looking gold cards, imprinted with the cafe's logo, to some of his regular customers.

As a members-only coffeehouse, the Insomnia Cafe might be one of a kind.

"We've never heard of anything like that before," said Bryan Bence, advertising director of Cups, a national cafe culture magazine based in San Francisco.

To cater to the more upscale crowd that he expects, Dunn said he is seriously considering changing from the self-parking system to a valet-parking service.

The cards mostly went to those twentysomething and older, Dunn said. Oh, yes, twentysomething professionals .

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