SilverLakeBlog had the pleasure of catching up with, Hyperion Public in Silver Lake, partner, John Speaks. Mr. Speaks is an idealistic dude with a warm practical approach to community, hospitality, and family. What a breath of fresh air! We chatted about little league, local government, and the strong woman he fell in love with.
Glenn Shelhamer – Realtor Sotheby’s | John Speaks – Hyperion Public in Silver Lake
A yummy happy hour menu herds in patrons to most bars these days, but that’s not the case at Hyperion Public in Silver Lake. This little neighborhood gem is the talk of the town, and tucked away on a busy strip off the avenue it’s coined after.
The menu highlights interesting bites and a twist on the usual drink options. Enjoy a laid back easy flow while eclectic music randomly shuffles – one track is All American Rejects, and next it’s Little Wayne “Right Above It”. The buzz and atmosphere thrills any Eastside L.A. local or passer-through.
Our hat’s off to the dedicated commuter, and we’ve got a plan for you. Hyperion Avenue sees stop-and-go traffic headed towards the 2, and I-5 between 4-7pm on any given weekday. That’s the sad truth. If you’re around this Eastside L.A spot, you’d be wise to beat the traffic at the Hyperion Public in Silver Lake. Happy hour is available at the dimly-lit “hip” back-bar, which is up a short flight of stairs, and passed the wall of “Speak” little leaguer superstar photographs. You’ll see what we mean when you drop in for one, or two, or…
Hyperion Public in Silver Lake
How long have you lived in Los Angeles?
I moved to LA in 1987 or 88’ Damn… Some people reading this weren’t even born yet. Thanks. Now I feel even… wiser? 🙂
What are your thoughts on how quickly Silver Lake and the rest of the Eastside neighborhoods are changing?
I can honestly say, it wasn’t that quick. I watched the change take place over the course of 20+ years. Silver Lake used to be a tougher part of town. Gangs ran the area, every house and apartment had bars on the windows. There were no nice restaurants in the area, no cool shops. Bars were kinda dangerous.
The real change to the Eastside neighborhoods wasn’t until the mid 90’s, when film and entertainment industry started to really pick up. Films, Music Videos, TV shows, and other industry jobs boomed. Cable and satellite networks needed on-air product and Hollywood was overflowing. That was when the young hollywood types, who couldn’t move west started moving East. That’s when everything changed.
Do you own or rent?
Both. My wife and I are pretty business savvy. So when others were flipping small homes and duplexes, we fixed them up and kept them. We have a couple duplexes and a small house that we rent out in Los Feliz and Silver Lake. I gotta say we’re pretty cool landlords too. 🙂 We own the house we live in now and have no plans on moving. We moved around enough in our early years. Her mom being a Flight Attendant and my mom being a Sergeant in the Army…
What are your favorite local spots for dining and relaxing… Besides Hyperion Public in Silver Lake.
Almost all of the the local eateries are great now a days. Yucca’s taco stand on Hillhurst Ave, Boo’s Philly Cheese Steaks on Virgil, and any food Trucks.
In infamous bar in the back
What was your first job and how long did you keep it?
A good friend and Fraternity Brother, Mike Mosbe, hooked me up with a radio editing job. There was this show called “Lee Bailey’s RadioScope” It was like Soul Train, just on the radio and no dancers. Editing was with a razor blade and scotch tape back then. Big ups to Emerson College and WERS Radio for the skills.
I worked that job for a little over 6 months… for a whooping $75 a week.
I understand when you met your wife; she told you she could kick you in the face. What’s that about?
My wife, Claire Stansfield… She’s a badass. A 6 foot 1 hottie and the Bonnie to my Clyde. I don’t want to get into the whole story but lets just say, she did that, then held her foot there in front of my face like some real kung-fu shit. I looked around her long out stretched leg (all slow like) and she smiled… Then I told her that that shit was hot and I loved her. We’ve been together ever since.
How and why did you transition your career into hospitality?
I’ve always been a people person. I really do believe in humanity and mankind as a whole. Growing up as an Army brat, we constantly meet new people and adjust to new places. Luckily, I have this great ability to relate to anyone and somehow, I was blessed with the greater ability to care. Hospitality to me, is when someone cares enough to help someone else. Hospitality is not about money, it’s about making the world around you a better place.
When did you discover your passion for the trade?
When I was broke. Stop laughing. When you got no money, you trade. The trick is… having something worth trading. Skill, time or labor for money is always good. I started my first business at 11 years old. Washing cars in my neighborhood. I had 5 kids with me, I charged $5 a car, I gave each kid $2 per car and kept $1 for me. Then, I would wash cars too. One of the kids worked with me, I gave him $2 and kept $3… I was pulling in about $30 a weekend at 11. It was the late 70’s. Classic rock was new… Rap wasn’t even a word yet, and I discovered a passion for trade.
Tell us about the process of launching Hyperion Public In Silver Lake.
Step by step?
1. Find partners you trust and who have equal but different talents. My partners Akida Mashaka (CEO- handles financials and legalities), Paddy Aubrey (Executive Chef – He’s the reason why the food taste great!) and myself (CCO – I do the initial location build outs, creative images, social media, outreach etc.,.). We all found each other because of our kids going to pre-school together. We hit it off instantly and trust each other immensely. We’re a three headed monster and the lions protecting the pride at the same time.
2. Be in a relationship where your significant other knows you’ll be physically there but mentally gone for at least a year and a half. Our wives are our biggest supporters, followed closely by our kids and investors.
3. Location, location, location… Luckily, we found this great location in an area that everyone said would fail… So, naturally, we HAD TO HAVE IT! It was the second oldest Gay Piano Bar in LA. It was called The Flying Leap. It was fabulous. But, it had run it’s course and the neighborhood needed something new… our concept of being the Community Pub was new. It caught on quickly. It was like love (and hard work) at first sight.
4. Get people to invest in your concept. We are fortunate to have so many people who really do believe in us. Love, pride, honesty and friendship, won’t let us let them down.
4. Build and decorate something unique. Make some unique food for the menu. Classic cocktails with a twist, good beers (crafts and local brews), great wines… order in small batches and change variety often. My wife happens to be a top designer and always makes the surroundings in Hyperion Public special. It’s always welcoming and beautiful. Then, create a demand for your concept and stick to it.
5. Lastly, open your doors and heart to everyone. Take the bad and make it better. Take the good and make it great.
The chic interiors design by John Speaks & Claire Stansfield
What’s the mission behind Hyperion Public?
We are the Community’s Pub. Our mission is to provide good food, good drinks and good times. To stay off the beaten trail but close to the the hearts the people. We were built by the people, for the people. To spread love.
If we had the chance to peek at your schedule, what would an average day look like?
Average day? I’ve never had one. I simply do what’s in front of me… and do the best I can at it. Which is all I would ask of anyone.
How do you see Hyperion Public in Silver Lake evolving?
As long as there are communities, there will be a need for Community Pubs. That’s what we are. We created that brand. Every community may be different and every Hyperion Public will adapt to that community, and do it’s best to give the people what they want.
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned about business since opening Hyperion Public in Silver Lake doors?
How to listen and learn from mistakes. We’re only human after all.
How have you overcome obstacles and stayed driven?
It takes a lot of love from your family and support from friends and trust in your partners. Life throws crap in front of you every day. It’s good to have people around to warn you, before you step in it. It’s all of us having each other’s backs and pushing each other to do better. Then obstacles and drive become less of an issue.
“I don’t care who you love as long as you love somebody,” says Speaks.
I understand you’re involved in several community organizations.
Yes… I’m running for Hollywood Neighborhood Council. It’s a big deal. It’s a 4 year term and has to be taken very seriously. So many changes are happening in our area and the future is here, now… Currently, the HUNC leaders are great, but a little bit behind the times. We can’t let old ideas mold the future for our children.
What is a creative mafia?
A very, very talented group of professionals in Hollywood. We have love, like a family bond for each other. We can creatively do anything we want and we help each other when need be. We’re phone calls instead of text messages and face to face instead of FaceBook. There’s a lot of us.
Tell us about coaching the Red Sox.
Yeah my Little Leaguers! Love the Silver Lake Rec Center! There are so many great kids who need to get outside and play ball and so many hard working parents that have no time. So two days a week (for a couple of hours) I coach Little League. I’ve been doing it for years. I can’t tell you how many kids I’m proud of. The first time they hit a ball or catch a fly ball for an out… BEST SHIT EVER! And when parents see their kid do something great or simply see them feeling part of something bigger than themselves… It’s pretty damn cool.
You’re also running for Hollywood neighborhood council. Where do you find the time?
I do things to make this a better world for my family, for my kids and other kids and for their families… I will always have time to help build the future they will have to live in, and time to stop the past that I can’t allow to resurface.
No one should live in fear of another. Racial, sexual, financial stereotyping and profiling… Crime is rising and people are being victimized by fear and mistrust. These things must stop. Someone needs to step in and bring these communities and neighborhoods together. Someone needs to get people to stand up in unity and against these crimes and these big money developments that are pushing people out of there homes and onto the streets. Someone has to stand up and not just be a vote, but be a voice.
Well. My name is Speaks. Nice to meet you.
Many people struggle to turn their passions into careers. What advice would you give them
Advice…Oddly, nothing I do is really about me so. Stop trying to do what you like for yourself. Start trying to do things you like for others. Create things for others. Give things to others. Share things with others. You’ll have multiple careers in no time! Like Hyperion Public, it’s not about my partners and I. It’s about the community. We support the local schools, the LAPD, the LAFD, Teachers, local organizations and anything that’s about community. That’s not a struggle. It’s simply the right thing to do.
2538 Hyperion Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Come support John Speaks this Sunday May 1st, 2016 at the HUNC
If you live in the above area you can vote!
Gelson’s Market Parking Lot
5877 Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, 90068
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Polling Hours: 4pm – 8pm
Your Silver Lake Realtor
I’m a local real estate agent with Sothebys International Realty and It would be my pleasure to help you find the perfect property to call home in Silver Lake CA, or if you’re thinking about selling a house, condo, or multi-family building in, Silver Lake, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Atwater Village, Glassell Park, Mount Washington, or Downtown Los Angeles, it would be a privilege to help you get top dollar for the sale of your property.
Lets chat sometime. 310-913-9477 or contact me.