Coffee shop honors iconic actress Pam Grier

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

LOS FELIZ — In the early 1970s, actress Pam Grier emerged as the premier female action hero of the blaxploitation era, beating up bad guys, lowlife pimps and shady drug dealers with a fearlessness that captivated generations of audiences and fans worldwide.

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, a longtime Grier fan, is paying homage to the cinematic trailblazer in a unique way.

Tarantino, who directed Grier in his 1997 blockbuster film “Jackie Brown,” has opened Pam’s Coffy, a retro coffee shop right next door to the Vista Theater, which he also owns

The coffee shop is a virtual shrine to Grier. Customers are immediately greeted by her iconic face prominently displayed on T-shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs, posters, stickers and various other merchandise.

There’s a huge poster of Grier on the wall promoting her 1973 film “Coffy,” which features Grier flaunting her signature Afro while toting a menacing shotgun on one hip.

The shop also serves as a time capsule that harkens back to the 70s with beaded curtains and purple and orange psychedelic wallpaper gracing the walls. 

Customers can settle down in front of old school televisions and a VCR and watch vintage shows, sip a steaming cup of coffee, chow down on a tasty pastry or a bowl of cereal (there are at least a dozen on display including Tarantino’s favorite, Cap’n Crunch). 

As for coffee, customers can relax on the outside patio and choose from such tasty brews as cafe au lait, chai tea, Bold Black Mamba, butterscotch caramel, raspberry mocha and lavender vanilla.

In “Coffy,” in which Grier plays Flower Child Coffin — better known as Coffy — Grier extracts revenge against a heroin dealer responsible for her sister’s addiction.

After “Coffy,” Grier made a series of films that catapulted her to the status of a Black cultural icon, burning up the screen in such cult favorites as “Friday Foster,” “Foxy Brown” and “Sheba Baby.” With her keen instincts and street smarts, Grier always managed to fight crime and stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

The actress has tackled her share of drama offscreen, as well. 

Grier, who never married, dated a slew of Hollywood men, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Freddie Prinze and Richard Pryor, but none of those liaisons led to marriage.

In 1988, doctors announced that Grier had stage four cervical cancer and said she only had 18 months to live.

Undaunted, the action star refused to give in to the diagnosis. She religiously adhered to a vigorous alternative treatment that included Chinese herbs. Grier worked hard toward recovery and has been in remission ever since.

“I gave it my all,” Grier, 75, said at the time.

Still working, she is featured in the paranormal horror series “Them, the Scare” in which she plays Athena, the mother of a detective that airs on Prime Video.

Grier recently visited Pam’s Coffy and was greatly impressed with the abundant memorabilia documenting her career. 

“I plan to keep making films until I’m 100 and I never want to lose my curiosity,” Grier told CBS News.

Pam’s Coffy is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Sunday and is located at 4473 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at metropressnews@gmail.com.

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