The task of keeping UCLA students caffeinated has fallen to locally based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.


The unit of International Coffee & Tea LLC has won two contracts giving its brand of caf & #233;s and coffee products unparalleled access to the school's student market.


For the next three years, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will be the sole provider to the university's Dining Services, which serves 15,000 meals daily in its eight dining halls.


Connie Foster, the university's associate director of housing and hospitality, expects to go through 30,000 pounds of grounds this year alone.


At a kiosk in the newly opened Bruin Caf & #233;, more than 400 students pass through every morning for a cup of Joe, she said.


The company has also opened a small caf & #233; at UCLA Hillel, the Jewish organization housed on Hilgard Avenue. The Coffee Bean provides all kosher coffee and food so it was an easy choice, said Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, UCLA Hillel's director.


"We needed someone who understood who we are, and had a sensitivity to what we are trying to achieve here," Seidler-Feller said. "At the same time, it's a brand that brings people in and we want to bring people in."


Licensing Hassles


Has Adolfo Suaya soured on the Zen Grill & Sake Lounge in Westwood?


After struggling for more than a year to get a full liquor license and paying $600,000 for renovations designed by Dodd Mitchell, Suaya had been in escrow to sell the restaurant on Broxton Ave. for $460,000, according to the Sept. 29 issue of real estate newsletter Pacific Report.


The deal now appears to have fallen through.


Suaya and minority partners Elaine Johnston and executive chef Ryuichi Hamada filed an application to transfer the venue's liquor license, currently limited to beer, wine and sake, to Chris Won on Sept. 28. The application was later withdrawn, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.


Suaya denied the restaurant was for sale, saying he planned only to transfer the license to Won, a sushi chef, before those plans fell apart. Won could not be reached.


Zen Grill & Sake Lounge had a hearing for a conditional use permit several months ago and had received approval for a full liquor license once it provided additional parking for its customers. The restaurant has not yet fulfilled that condition.


Suaya, who also owns the Gaucho Grill chain, opened the Zen Grill & Sake Lounge in September 2003, after buying the rights from Johnston and Hamada.


The original Zen Grill locations at Olympic Boulevard in Beverly Hills and Third Street in West Hollywood, owned by Westwood Brewing Co. owner Edward Kim, are not affected.


Staff reporter Rebecca Flass can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230, or at rflass@labusinessjournal.com . Staff reporter Andy Fixmer contributed to this column.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.