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Brighton Heights Java n' Crème House 

A new coffee-and-sandwich shop offer West Coast flair

Bob and Yolanda Rhoden are trying to bring more to Brighton Heights than just a neighborhood coffee shop; they're bringing tastes of their native California.

The couple -- formerly of Los Angeles, and now living in Mount Lebanon -- have breathed new life into a vacant coffeehouse on California Avenue.

The Brighton Heights Java n' Crème House -- or "The Java House," as it's mostly known in the neighborhood-- opened in May, and plans to offer poetry nights and musical acts. Its menu offers a selection of coffee, tea and espresso drinks; sandwiches and pastries; natural fruit smoothies; and a juice bar.

"There are juice bars all over California," says Bob, who owned one himself in addition to being a union carpenter. "But I haven't been able to find one here."

Bob, the "juice man," plans to operate the juice bar during fall and winter -- "when people need those nutrients." Right now, the smoothie bar is for summer, "when people need refreshment." 

He uses only fresh fruit and ice (you can order one with nonfat yogurt or whey protein) and options include papaya and pineapple, mango and blueberry, and a California favorite of orange, strawberry and banana. 

The lunch menu, which changes weekly, has Yolanda's West Coast touch, such as a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, peppers, onions, guacamole, provolone and muenster on ciabatta bread. Yolanda makes her own guacamole and says she wants to incorporate avocado as much as she can.

"Avocadoes are from home," she says. "We want to give you something different, something new to Pittsburgh. That's why we're here." 3619 California Ave., Brighton Heights. 412-412-0734

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