LOS ANGELES — A little warm milk makes for a good latte, especially when it’s made from the heart from people like Celia and Joe Ward-Wallace.

They are the owners of South LA Café. They opened the business late last year but have have lived in South Los Angeles for decades.

They wanted to build a place for the community because they are watching more and more gentrification take over the city.  

“It put a spark under us to get it done a little faster, sense of urgency,” Joe said.


“If we're going to try to do something for the people by the people, that it had to be done soon and there probably wasn’t anybody better than us do it,” said Celia. 

Before the shop arrived just off of King Boulevard and Western, the space was occupied by multiple failed businesses and projects. Now, this shop is serving up renewed hope in community.

“It was all about creating a space that was gonna be black and brown community members that are marginalized and often feel forgotten,” Celia said.

Jerome Wiley is one of many building their vision boards, setting their goals for 2020 at one of the events the shop has hosted in its short existence. 

“We need more black-owned business in the community,” said Wiley. “It’s a great example for students. I’m a teacher and I incorporate business and fitness in my classroom, so that’s why I feel it’s important.” 

The couple wanted to open this shop for years, but with Joe’s retirement from the fire department coming, now was the right time. 

“This is a gathering place. People are coming here who are meeting for the first time after 40 years, and they live in this community. That’s crazy to me,” Joe said.

Naysayers told them a quality café in this location would never work because of their community clientele. But so far, they are proving the doubters wrong. 

“Those myths. We busted those myths,” the couple said in unison.

The café has already been honored by the City of Los Angeles for its establishment in the community.