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San Clemente Journal

Wildflower Florist & Zebra House Coffee Small Businesses with Big Plans

Mar 05, 2020 09:34AM ● By Mary Colarik

Meredith Matranga of Wildflower Florist will be moving her shop to a new building on Camino de Estrella.

by Mary Colarik

I fell in love with San Clemente the moment I drove down Del Mar-it reminded me of my childhood visits to Carmel, but much sunnier with a true surf town vibe. Once I bought my home in the Southwest section of San Clemente I discovered several more local spots-not just on Del Mar-all within walking distance. I quickly became a regular at two small businesses right next door to each other located at the south end of the Ralph’s parking lot on South El Camino Real...
The two businesses, Wildflower Florist and Zebra Coffee House currently share a wall, however big changes are in store at their location.

Wildflower Florist was established in 1979 and has had several owners over the years. It will be moving to a much larger space on Camino De Estrella on the other side of the five in mid-March. And, as soon as they move out Zebra House Coffee will begin renovating the vacated space-knocking out the shared wall to expand the coffee house operation.

A Dream Becomes RealityWildflower Florist
Wildflower Florist began with a little girl’s dream over 20- years-ago. When Meredith Matranga was seven or eight years old she told her mom that her dream was to own a flower store someday. However, as the years went by that dream got pushed aside as she graduated from Laguna Hills High School and headed up the coast to Pepperdine University. A Liberal Arts major with plans to become a teacher-she did her observation hours, loved the children and teaching, and thought it would be best to have a “real job,” yet it wasn’t her passion.  

That all changed when her mom called and said she and a friend had purchased Wildflower Florist in San Clemente. She offered Meredith a job at the flower shop …a dream come true for Matranga. 

After working at the floral and gift shop for five years, she resumed ownership. She quickly began expanding the gift line picking up more unusual cards, Rifle paper products, baby gifts, journals, essential oils, soaps and candles at the LA and Las Vegas gift market shows. 

The floral side of this business offers well-designed flower arrangements for all types of events and occasions, including weddings and corporate functions. Several clients have flowers delivered to their homes and businesses on a weekly or biweekly schedule. 

Matranga is thrilled that she had an opportunity to purchase a building on Camino De Estrella as she was feeling stagnant in the current space. She will have a larger cooler which will allow her to make more deliveries and stage bigger affairs with her stunning flower arrangements and displays. She expects a smooth transition from the old place to the new one-maybe only being closed one or two days. 

When asked what she enjoys most about owning her very own floral/gift store she said,  “I absolutely love providing the community with flowers, I am passionate about each new shipment and the people I work with--they are the heart of the company-I feel the love every day at work.” 

The popular Zebra House Coffee will be expanding at the current location.

 Zebra House Coffee 
The coffee house opened its doors for business in the summer of 2011. The original owners, Robin and Jay Mcilwee sold the shop to Sara Allen-Peterson five years later in the summer of 2016. Her husband, Curtis is a family friend of Mcilwee’s son, Jason, the two guys being long time best friends and surfing buddies.

Sara and Curtis found out that the Mcilwee’s were selling the business while vacationing in Mexico. (In fact they got engaged on that trip). Allen-Peterson really wanted to buy the business. Her dad had opened a coffee roastery in Richmond, Virginia and she was  thrilled that this opportunity would allow her to work with her dad-selling his organic single origin coffee beans at a new business endeavor in San Clemente. 

There had been some uncertainty about continuing the lease at 1001 S. El Camino Real for both businesses, so 2019 was a bit up and down as they were waiting for a new landlord. It all worked out, and Zebra House Coffee was able to negotiate a new long-term lease at the location. 
Plans have been drawn up with architects and designers and are almost ready to be submitted to the city for approval. In addition to the current location, Zebra House Coffee will also have a brand new drive thru coffee shop and café open next to Target across from the Sports Park-which allow more people from Talega to enjoy all the offerings that Zebra House Coffee is well known for in its current spot.  The plans have already been approved for that location with an opening date projected for mid-2021.

The original Zebra House Coffee location will have more space to promote their Zebra House apparel, coffee beans, and fun art pieces plus more room for tables and chairs. Allen-Peterson says, “We will keep the same humble, welcoming, yet playful vibe.” 
The plans also include a more efficient drive-thru. 

Allen-Peterson says she is excited to open up the space offering a little more of everything that the coffee spot is known for-including the yummy muffins baked fresh every day, plus an expanded breakfast and lunch menu-offering healthy and takeaway items. 

The business will continue to display art from local artists. For about 50% of the artists it is their first time ever displaying their art. The art is rotated on a monthly basis.  

Allen-Peterson who is super enthusiastic about all the great changes says, “I am just so thrilled with how everything is coming along! I feel like I’m building out my dream operation which is 100% based on an already successful and loved Zebra House.” She says that the coffee house will remain open during most of the expansion even if they have to serve the coffee and baked goodies in a more creative way for a few weeks. Kudos to both of these young women for pursuing their dreams and keeping the small business vibe alive!