Whether you took notice of the Republic of Laughter Café during its soft opening or grand opening, neither “soft” nor “grand” are the terms that matter most at the new eatery just outside West Hollywood.
It's all about "happiness."
The Republic of Laughter, which describes itself as a “happiness café,” celebrated its official grand opening Thursday night. The café is located at 7661 Melrose Avenue and at the helm is one of Los Angeles’ most revered chefs, Govind Armstrong, who served as a 13-year old apprentice to Wolfgang Puck at Puck's Spago restaurant, formerly located in Weho.
“I think living in Los Angeles, that it’s something that people would gravitate towards,” Armstrong said about the concept for the restaurant.
Restaurateurs Alex Vasilkin, 26, and Peter Silkin, 26, based the concept for the ROFL Café on the research of Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto, which revealed that positive human consciousness has the ability to affect the molecular structure of water.
In the likeness of Emoto’s research, the interior of the ROFL Café is decorated with the English language's most positive words, including love, joy, happiness, and of course, laughter.
“For me, I’m always trying to stay as positive as possible, so to actually have a location that promotes that in their philosophy, it’s pretty unique,” Armstrong said. “You don’t really find that too often in this crazy city.”
The Melrose location serves as Vasilkin and Silkin’s second ROFL Café, the first one having been opened in Moscow in April.
“We believe that words can really change the atmosphere around, so we wanted to make this a really positive place,” Vasilkin said. “If you’re stressed, you can come here and relax. There are positive workers and positive words all around. It’s all about good thoughts.”
Vasilkin said that he and Silkin, who plan to open “five or six” more locations in Los Angeles, explored over 200 locations for their inaugural ROFL on American soil before landing on the Melrose Avenue location.
“We had a few projects in Russia and we were successful there,” Vasilkin said. “Basically, we decided to move here and bring this business here. This is such a good atmosphere in California. For two months, we just drove around. But when we saw this one, it was great.”
Café Chef de Cuisine Jacob Wildman, a longtime colleague of Armstrong’s, says that working in such a positive environment, for him, makes his day to day tasks that much easier.
“If you don’t adopt that mindset, there is going to be a disconnect, especially with something as positive as this,” Wildman said. “But it’s easy to remain positive in this environment.”
Despite the positive nature of the Café design, even Vasilkin said he was not quite sure how customers would react to the idea in a completely separate country.
“I played manager here for two months and sometimes, a server would tell me there is a customer that wants to speak to a manager,” Vasilkin said. “Automatically, you think something bad happened."
"But 99 percent of the time, they just wanted to say thank you for how good everything was.”