The Brentwood Country Mart...


better known as "The Mart".  The first thing one might notice about the patio at the Mart is that it's both indoors and out.  


Outdoors because it is, indoors because, well, it's so protected, by the surrounding food places and the canopy of umbrellas overhead.  From my recent city wanderings and just common sense, people seem very attuned to the atmosphere of the place they are spending time in and how comfortable they feel there.  All the years I have been coming to the Mart I've noticed that people seem very much at home. 

One of the main differences between the Mart and, say, Peet's is the presence of children.  Actually if one were to do a count, depending on the time of day, they sometimes outnumber the adults.  Every possible combination of ages comes to the Mart.  There are the moms with their kids, the dads with their kids, both parents together with their kids, grandparents with their grandchildren, babysitters or nannies with their charges, noticeably happy to just be out of the house, and then those at that more independent age of middle school or high school without any adults at all.  And of course, like Peet's and the LA County Museum, there are the adults out together for lunch or coffee.  (One of the things I'm always intrigued by is the 3-4:30pm group who gets a full meal, but that's another story.).  


The single most pervasive feature of everyone at the Mart, is they all project relaxation.  Honestly, I've never been anywhere where people seem so relaxed, happy and hungry.  And happy to see each other!  It's wonderful.  Maybe it's the french fries?  Or better yet, maybe it's that one of the adults can get a salad and the kids can get fried shrimp and french fries and they can eat together in total harmony.  Of course I don't want to stereotype, just as many adults get the famous roast chicken and french fries as kids, but still, the variety seems a popular feature.  

There's also something unique about being in the Mart patio from around 3:00 on, that lull in the afternoon when people seem to come for a break in their day, and an atmosphere of confidential and possibly consequential conversations take over.  Some of them have what looks to me like dinner, but who am I to judge?  Of course their private time is often interrupted by the after school crowd who come storming in, but still they all co-exist.  You would think those there for the quiet would mind, but that's the thing at the Mart, everyone co-exists, including the staff, in a not so big space, under those crazy gray umbrellas and clay owls peering down at everyone. 

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