Here is a throwback to our 2015 interview with Clabe!

Interview by Venice Paparazzi’s Alex Stowell

The Cow’s End Cafe has been serving coffee, sandwiches, smoothies and more to Venice and MDR residents for 29 years. It is a beloved institution where the locals hang.  Today we are going to meet the man who started it all, Clabe Hartley.  Clabe is a pit bull loving, life long martial artist who listens to the Eagles, likes to eat lobster and cites The Godfather as his favorite movie.

Clabe was born in a poor town in Panama, and spent his early child hood on a street thats name translates to “get out if you can.”
Well, Clabe did get out.  His family  moved to Chicago and he spent his teenage years in Old town Chicago, where he learned to box at the YMCA and developed a fondness for local coffee houses.
Moving to California as a young man, Clabe met a man who would change his life, his Sensei, Ohshima. Ohshima had a dojo in Santa Monica that looked like “someone had turned back the hands of time.” With wooden floors, a non-violent, compassionate approach and tea served after training, it was here that Clabe learned more than Karate.  He learned the “art of Zen.”

Years later, when Clabe eloped with his wife Thea, it was a priest and  Sensei Ohshima that presided over the ceremony in Little Tokyo.

When Clabe decided to build a coffee house and live above it, people thought he was nuts. But, doing things the normal way has never been the way Clabe rolls.  His wife is 30 years his junior and  he had his first child at 55.  Clabe has an 8th grade education and a daughter, Seaf, who is  in college. Hartley  credits his “instincts greater than intellect” as the primary reason for his success. And finds truth in Einstein’s saying that “the more he knew, the more he recognized that there must be a superior intelligence.”

Clabe, Thea and Seaf Hartley


So, drawing on his memories of Panama and Chicago as coffee houses being a “community gathering for culture,” The Cows End was born.

And, if you would like to taste something directly inspired by Clabe’ youth, try the Latin Cappuccino. It is condensed milk, steamed 1/2 and 1/2 and two shots of espresso, just like the Panamanian ladies used to serve in Clabe’s birthplace.

Clabe and Thor on the Venice Boardwalk. RIP Thor!

Fun fact! Here is Clabe in his modeling days! Photo courtesy of Thea Hartley

Clabe Hartley (center) with  Mark Van Gessel (Hinano Cafe & Nighhawk Breakfast Bar), Bob Singer (C&O Trattoria), Darrell Preston (The Venice Whaler), Mo Karimbeik (Med Cafe),  Councilmember Mike Bonin, George Francisco (Venice Chamber President ), Brittney Seeliger, Mike Dobson (The Venice Whaler & Red O Restaurant), Will Hawkins (VNC), Sandie West (MPCC & Creative Chakra), and Dave Boren (VB Surf).   Photo taken at the official Washington Square Sign ceremony on August 17, 2016.

Stop by the Cow’s End Cafe and say hi to Clabe! 

“It’s not just The Cow Coffee, it’s the Experience.”

=View drink and food menu!
=1/2 Block From the Beach and the Venice Pier
=Outdoor Seating / Indoor Seating
=Free Wi-Fi with Purchase!!!
=Free Children’s Music Class Mon. & Thurs. from 10:30am~11:15am
=OA(Over Eaters Anonymous) Meeting Mon.~Fri. from 7:30am~8:30am
=Private Room Available for Rental.

The Cow’s End Cafe.  34 Washington Boulevard  |  Venice Beach, CA 90292  | By the Venice Pier |  |  Join the Cow’s End Cafe on facebook!

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