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Pannikin prolonged: La Jolla cafe receives last-minute extension for Girard Avenue site

Crowds turned out April 9 during what most believed to be Pannikin La Jolla's closing weekend.
Crowds turned out April 9 during what most believed to be Pannikin La Jolla’s closing weekend. The owners learned they would be allowed to operate through the end of April.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

After a weekend-long farewell to its decades-old location, Pannikin La Jolla spread the word that it was granted an extension to keep serving coffee, tea and more at 7467 Girard Ave. through Saturday, April 30.

Pannikin had been expected to close April 10 after lease renegotiations with the property owner, which began in December, failed to reach an agreement and Amanda Morrow, who operates the cafe with Gloria Serna and Dan Grunow, received 30 days’ notice of lease termination in mid-March.

Morrow said she has been looking to reopen Pannikin somewhere else in The Village, though nothing is definite.

Unable to find an 11th-hour solution that would let it stay in its decades-long location, Pannikin La Jolla plans to mark its last weekend at 7467 Girard Ave. with an all-day event Saturday, April 9, featuring music and more.

The property is owned by the Clem Abrams Trust. Abrams was a La Jolla developer who died in December 2018. His wife, Lydia “Dia” Abrams, went missing in June 2020 from her 117-acre ranch near Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County and has not been found.

Abrams’ trust is administered by his children, Clinton and Crisara Abrams. Clinton told the La Jolla Light in March that he disagreed with Crisara’s decision to evict Pannikin.

“It’s an outrage,” Clinton said. “I want the Pannikin to stay. It is an absolutely critical part of La Jolla. It is iconic.”

Neither Crisara nor her attorney, Janet Gertz, have responded to requests for comment.

Bob Sinclair opened the original Pannikin Coffee & Tea in 1968 in one of the Green Dragon Colony cottages.

Pannikin moved to the Girard Avenue location in 1971. Sinclair also opened other Pannikin locations that either have closed or have different owners now.

Morrow, who bought the cafe in 2007 after working there for years, had hoped in the days after receiving the lease termination notice that a solution could be reached to allow Pannikin to stay.

Pannikin La Jolla's tea menu has been thinning out as it prepares to close this month.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The news of the termination raised alarm among many community members, hundreds of whom have pitched in to help via a GoFundMe account set up by longtime local resident and La Jolla Town Council President James Rudolph.

As of April 11, the GoFundMe account (bit.ly/PannikinDonations) had raised nearly $44,000 “to assist in the search for a new location.”

Rudolph told the Light that the money would be given to Pannikin “as soon as they depart the location.”

Rudolph said he received a message from Morrow on April 10 that she would be allowed to remain open through April 30.

Morrow said she has been advised by her legal team not to comment about the situation, but others who heard the news expressed relief.

La Jolla resident and longtime Pannikin supporter Chris Canole said April 11 that “I don’t know what the reprieve means, but at least we’re still drinking coffee.”

When Pannikin was set to close April 10, crowds gathered and waited in long lines to celebrate the long-standing cafe as upbeat music played.

“It’s a real bummer,” customer Anthony Chivetta said April 9. “I wish there wasn’t a situation with what’s going on with their landlord, but I’m sure they’ll find a spot down here soon.”

Adi Dinescu said “the community is really pulling for Pannikin to stick around. ... I think the GoFundMe [and] social media support has been really cool to see how important this place is to everyone here.”

Newer Pannikin fan Kate McCain said: “I love this coffee shop. Every time I come, it’s been a great experience. It’ll be sad to see this location go. Hopefully they find a new spot.” ◆