I fall more in love with HOWS Market each and every day. It's only been open a few months now but its quickly becoming the town gathering space for those of us who live in Downtown NoHo (and beyond).
Friday night, I met up with Jack Witt (He's the one in the photo standing in front of a HOWS ad inside the NoHo Metro Red Line Station, President of the Universal City-North Hollywood Jaycees and a legendary local fitness trainer) to indulge a bit in the Sam Adams beer tasting in the Wine Experience. Along with slices of pizza baked in-store, a series of six different vintages of the popular Boston beer were consumed. Also in attendance was a charming woman who works as an executive for the Bravo television network.
Of course HOWS is the brainchild of former executives of the legendary Hughes Market chain that served Los Angeles for decades. When the chain was gobbled up by Ralphs in the late 90s, shoppers saw a decline in service at local stores as prices increased.
The growing small chain brings back the charm and service of Hughes but updated with a bit of a boho flair. The Hughes chain - started by Joseph Hughes the father of HOWS co-owner Roger Hughes and grandfather of the NoHo store's general manager Paul Hughes - was in business for nearly 50 years before a series of mergers and acquisitions turned many remaining Hughes locations in Ralphs markets. HOWS is owned by Roger Hughes as well as former Hughes execs Mark Oerum, David Wolff and Steve Strickler (the H, O, W and S of HOWS).
The Wine Experience is a new feature for HOWS and certainly for much of Los Angeles. Unlike the long rows of beer, wine and liquor you see at the usual Ralphs or Vons outlet, HOWS has a separate, well decorated, adult beverage department. And the linchpin of all this is a tasting room - which even thought the market and the law makes real clear is not a bar - it is quickly gathering the charm and intimacy not even Sam Malone could have imagined for Cheers.
Saturday, after a dinner of sushi at Miyako at Lankershim and Morrison, I headed back over to HOWS to see what was happening at the Wine Experience. As usual, I found sommeliers Bill and Greg - two great guys - on duty. After requesting a bottle of Sam Adam's Summer Ale (wine can only be served in one ounce tasting portions but individual bottles of beer may be consumed under the terms of the store's license) a party of young adults returning from a birthday celebration at Tokyo Delves. Spotted in this group was Ginger Kinison - the young niece of late, legendary comic Sam Kinison - and an up and coming performer and artist in her own right - definitely adding to the NoHo vibe.
Besides the Wine Experience there are lots of other great things about HOWS - not to mention of course the great produce, meat section, etc. However just how much its working to build community is notable in its own right.
NoHo - we may have landed. Stay tuned.