Posted by: Frederick Cornwell Sanders | 2011/11/16

The GreenHouse, a Concept Design Review

The GreenHouse just recently opened in Long Beach, California in the old Sipology space on the corner of Linden Avenue and Broadway.

As titles go, The GreenHouse concept, from a perceived public perspective, plays off the environmental movement and the coffee craze. The space has been lightened (read enlightened) from Sipology‘s darker mood to a palette of eggshell, mocha (think coffee with cream), and light greens. One can over hear the comment, ” it is more comfortable” than Sipology. Gone is a arty feel of a gallery with darker urban masculine overtones. Now, the space has an upscale, feminine quality with upholstery, pillows, candles, and a massive black  focal chandelier.

Collections of plants, swags of long cloth and twigs over windows, whitewashed chair, silver metal and well placed art bring a calculated freshness to the interior.

The concept comes off appropriately “green” with the interior design. And while a coffeehouse, they have expanded the concept to include green salads and panini with lots of green. Even the Biotuf  plastic and paper products by Heritage Plastic Products underline the environmental and the “made in USA” vibe. Since carry out waste can be a coffeehouse’s worst environmental problem, the use of this biodegradable plastic is a big deal. The award-winning Point of Sale (POS) system technology is provided by and adds efficiency to the management side of this specialty retailer at a very reasonable price per month. Again, this is savings that lower this establishment’s carbon footprint.

The “green” concept suffers in the details as one would expect. The greatest complaint is in the lighting. The use of MR-16 Halogen light bulbs and incandescent light bulbs ignore the development of LEDs. The interior’s heat gain and light bulb’s energy consumption may be considerable. Candles burn during the day, and they do not come across as scented, so their use seems wasteful, adds to potential liability issues, and adds to the unwanted heat. Evening candles with LEDs would be an appropriate solution to further the concept. Some of the windows are nailed shut to prevent air circulation, add to fire liability, and safety liability. This needs to change to allow air circulation and greater safety in the two storey space. The bathroom could have added “green” efficiencies such as air dryers for hands, motion sensors on toilets and wash basins, upgrade to state of the art toilet flush technology, and other modernizations. The restrooms did seem clean. The design budget may not have allowed other “green” concept improvements.

As with many “green” concepts, the concept comes with a price. As people have already admitted they will pay more for a “green” product, The GreenHouse has taken advantage of this business model. For instance, expect to pay a blistering $2.71, including taxes,  for a sixteen ounce plain black coffee.

Your internet will not be free at The GreenHouse, in contrast to the details mentioned on You will receive a

case-sensitive WEP code to access the World Wide Web on your receipt. It is written in small typeface at the bottom of the receipt for the many that are sight challenged. Make sure you ask for a receipt since they do not always give the receipt to you after purchase.

To add to the prices, and this is somewhat  sneaky, a gratuity is added to your receipt. There is the ubiquitous tip jar as well. One would hope that the unsuspecting customer is not tipping twice.

The crowd, at first dominated by females at noon, balanced out by two in the afternoon on the day visited.

The music hovered on big band selections of the 1930s and 1940s.

Enjoy The GreenHouse as your visit well be contributing to the “green” movement. Yet remember, bring more cash or credit for this “comfortable” and responsible choice. This specialty retail concept, as focused on the name, has tried to follow its concept. As one can see, budget or detailing can throw off a firm concept, and thus the concept’s purity is tainted. In an artistic enclave, like Long Beach’s East Village Arts District, the missing details may work against the success of the venture. Community sensitivities matter.



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