East Coast Vibe
Written by Joshua Lurie | Photographed by Tameka Jacobs
The Hamptons, a cluster of posh villages that form the sleepy south fork of Long Island, spring to life in summer with jet-setting New Yorkers arriving in droves. Last summer, Sherman Oaks residents Rafik Louka and his brother Ramy vacationed there and happened to meet Massimo Noja De Marco, partner in PH+E restaurant consultancy. That chance meeting helped plant the seed for what was ultimately a complete transformation of their Sherman Oaks lounge, Vibe Café.
“I just loved the feel of the Hamptons—the food, the architecture, the colors, the excitement,” explains Rafik. “With a lot of thought, including hiring an interior designer and an architect, we began creating Hamptons 818.”
The Louka brothers grew up in Alexandria, Egypt. Ramy moved to LA and built a hospitality career. Rafik later joined him, running markets and smoke shops and developing a hookah brand before teaming up with his brother on Vibe Café, on the former site of what many middle-agers will remember as The Wiener Factory. The lounge performed well, but Rafik had big plans for daylight, recognizing the need for better breakfast and lunch options in the Valley.
Rafik and Ramy completely flipped the space, from furniture and fixtures to silverware. Brick walls now support a retractable brown roof, white-framed windows, rustic wood tables and blue banquettes. On sunny days, when the roof peels back and the windows are open, you can practically feel an ocean breeze. Pop music like Katy Perry’s “Hot n Cold,” Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” play.
The menu melds influences from the Hamptons and LA. Breakfast brings a fleet of omelets and Benedicts, including one variation with lobster, grilled tomato and saffron Hollandaise sauce. Other standouts include cornflake-battered French toast and “The Valley,” white chocolate pancakes layered with peach compote and applewood-smoked bacon. Kale and quinoa hash browns are a default side for cage-free egg dishes.
Later in the day, expect an array of salads, sandwiches, skewers and a signature burger. The Egyptian spread references the brothers’ heritage, complete with falafel, stewed fava beans, tahini, pickles and pita. Desserts are on the light side, including fruit salad sweetened with agave nectar and a watermelon plate with Feta cheese, apparently in anticipation of bikini season, though you can indulge in chocolate cake or crème brulee.
After 9 p.m., dining tables lower to lounge height and families make way for singles as Hamptons 818 goes 21+. Rafik is particularly proud of two cocktails: Vibe’s Berry, a vodka and berry concoction with a Serrano chile kick; and White Grape Crush, a gin-based grape and mint martini. Rafik also busts out hookahs. Live it up. You’re in the Hamptons.
Hamptons 818 | 14917 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks | hamptons818.com