It was the hair—the hair color, really. They refer to it as red, but it’s really more of a bright, deep pink. If they didn’t both dye their hair that color, Jaci Popp and Franzi Roth might never have met.
But because of the coincidence, a colleague introduced the two European women while they were both in Los Angeles to take language classes at Kings Colleges. The bartender and the barista hit it off quickly and became like “soul sisters.”
“We are not related—but in some way we are,” Popp said. It was as if they had “almost the same head—not just the same hair color.” Not only did they both love the L.A. area—“the city, the culture, everything”—but they both dreamed of starting a business. With their thoughts and their dreams so in sync that they were dubbed “twins,” they decided to join forces.
Now the two hospitality industry veterans are preparing to open their business, Twins Coffee and Virgin Cocktails, 8410 Sunset Blvd. at Kings, by the end of August. The concept is a European-style coffee house featuring wifi, a limited menu (espresso, cappucinno and light, simple cakes and cookies) and a bar. The twist: the drinks are all non-alcoholic.
It’s an unusual tactic for a business in West Hollywood, especially on the iconic Sunset Strip, rife with hotels, music venues and nightlife. To Popp and Roth, it’s ideal because they hope the business will attract tourists as well as locals.
The “twins” envision the business looking like a traditional café during the day, perhaps followed by people leaving work and craving the taste of pre-dinner drinks but not accompanying tipsiness. If families come in with curious kids in tow, it’s OK for the tykes to sip mom or dad’s cocktail. At night, the bar will light up to foster more of an out-on-the-town vibe.
Roth, the veteran bartender, doesn’t want to overwhelm customers with too many drink options. So they’ll probably start with just five or ten on-menu drinks. But “I have more in my mind,” she said, and if people ask her for recommendations she’ll craft something off-menu.
There are a couple of drinks Roth is especially excited about. One is a virgin cucumber caipirinha that she says is “really special.” The other is a signature cocktail that will bear the Twins brand name: a red and black frozen virgin margarita. (The color scheme is an homage to the pair’s reddish hair and black company logo.)
Popp, who hails from Germany and has also lived in Zurich, is the company’s CFO/COO. In addition to training as a barista, she has worked as a pastry chef and then as a café manager in Zurich.
Roth, a Zurich native, is the CEO of Twins, has worked as a waitress as well as a bartender with a specialization in cocktails and has a penchant for juggling bottles, glassware and fire.