This is a bit sad news because we’ve gotten to know owners and Echo Parkians Erich Schlieske and Ellen McAlister (eEvil Ink Design) quite well. Villainy General Store opened in the former Echo Curio space almost exactly two years ago, taking on the challenge of renovating the space and that terribly tiny bathroom. Erich announced the store’s closing on the store’s Facebook page, saying:
THANK YOU ECHO PARK !!! We have met so many very cool and gracious people here. We met lots of neighbors, old-timers, new-timers and for the most part we’ve been well received and we’ve always appreciated that kindness.
Who knew that a Villainy General Store could last for 2 years? More importantly, what is a “Villainy General Store”? It was an experiment, what can I say? I’ve always been intrigued by junk drawers, misfit accessories, vintage curios and funny, odd gifts.
And a curious store it is – but we’ve always found something to take home. Since the store won’t be closing until the end of December, you can still pick up some great and unique gifts, including cheeky greeting cards and (my favorite) t-shirts with hipster sayings like “Echo Park: Where Silver Lake Comes to get Drunk.” After December you can always check them out online at villainyla.com.
What will be next for the storefront on Sunset Boulevard and Laveta Terrace? Perhaps another boutique?
It seams like yesterday the culinary duo took over the 1,000 square foot upscale, American restaurant on Allison Avenue near Sunset Boulevard. The reviews over Yelp! are pretty darn fantastic, but perhaps it could have been the January 2013 review by the esteemed Jonathon Gold that did them in when he wrote in the LA Times:
Tiny portions are great in principle and on tasting menus, but there may be a reason so many of the regulars at Cortez fit nicely into skinny jeans. And by the time you finish ordering, you are going to have spent a shocking amount of money.
Pricey, perhaps – but delicious from what we’ve heard. Echo Park Now has reached out to Cortez for comment and to confirm the rumor… in the meantime, we hope it’s not true and we wish Cortez nothing but the best!
You’ll have a chance to check out Cortez after all – Owner Marta Teegan responded to our email, saying it is NOT closing. Glad to hear!
The pedal boats are back in business on Echo Park Lake! It’s been around four years since the city shut down pedal boat operations at the Boathouse due to budget cuts. Yesterday the operators of the pedal boats, Echo Park Lake Pedal Boats, Canoe & Gondola, greeted lines of people renting the bright yellow boats on the newly renovated Echo Park Lake.
The boating company is operating on a 90 day pilot program for the summer, after which the city will review whether or not it was successful. The cafe vendor will also operate under the same trial period – Square One Dining is expected to start serving on August 1.
Cost is $5 per child and $10 per adult for both the pedal boats (up to one hour) and canoe rides (the latter includes two laps around the lake with a guide). A gondola ride sounds like a nice date night – a half hour for one couple will cost you $50.
Wednesdays will be a great day to head down and rent a pedal boat – called “90026 day,” local residents can rent a pedal boat for just $10.
Hours right now are Monday through Friday, 11:00 am-7:00 pm, and weekends open at 9:00 am until 30 minutes before sunset. We imagine hours will fluctuate depending on the season.
The menu for the cafe has not yet been released, but according to The Eastsider LA will include “park fare” such as hamburgers, hot dogs, juices, and brunch items. Currently the sample menu on the Square One Dining website looks pretty delicious – gourmet cold and hot sandwiches, salads, soups, and more. Hopefully the price tag at the new Echo Park Lake Boathouse won’t reflect that menu – the cheapest lunch sandwich is listed at a whopping $10.50.
In November 2011, we published the list of items found at the bottom of Echo Park Lake. Of the various items beyond the usual toys, trash and debris there were skateboards, office chairs, shopping carts and even a pay telephone. But the two guns, a hand gun and a rifle, were items of interest as the public pondered over what they would find in relation to criminal activities that the lake was once notorious for.
But after a recent article published by Los Angeles Magazine, which states there were a total of three guns found in the sludge, we got curious. A representative from the Bureau of Engineering confirmed that there was indeed a third gun found later on – a gun that was so rusted (like the others) that is was not “considered to be useful for any investigations” by the LAPD.
It had been since the 1984 Olympics that Echo Park Lake was last drained and dredged, leaving many to ponder the items that sank to the bottom of the lake. Despite that cleaning, even an 1880s-era wagon wheel was found in this last cleanup, and many of us all wondered what else was under there. No dead bodies, just three guns, a parking enforcement booth, a toil, and lonely 20 frisbees.
Now that the lake is all filled up, Saturday morning is the grand opening after a year and a half of construction. Make your way to the corner of Park and Logan at 10:00 am for the festivities!
More exciting news about Echo Park Lake - the official grand opening is happening this weekend on Saturday, June 15.
On Saturday the crew will start removing the fence that has encircled the lake during the past year and half of construction. While it will take a few days to have the fence fully removed, there will be a full day of celebration hosted by Mayor-Elect Eric Garcetti, the Department of Rec and Parks and the Bureau of Engineering for the Lake’s reopening ceremonies.
Featured speakers and performers will gather at the corner of Logan Street and Park Avenue just before 10:00 am.
Several businesses in the area of taking advantage of the opening with some great specials and celebrations – like Lot 1 Cafe’s “love & lotus – a free day/night of music” ($2 PBRs and bottomless mimosas!).
Earlier this month, we shared some excellent news on Twitter and Facebook – Echo Park Lake will be officially and finally opening to the public on June 15! Although this is about a month later than we expected, the project is on time and under budget at $45 million (originally $85 million).
At a news conference/media preview of the lake earlier this month, elected officials and project heads shared thoughts on the project: “This has been an iconic setting for film, for literature, for art, for countless movies,” said L.A. mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti. “And like the surrounding neighborhood the park has fallen on some tough times. But the true beauty of Echo Park is reflected not just Echo Park itself, this lake, but the entire community here today.”
When the gates do open at Echo Park Lake on June 15, we think everyone will like the changes. Here are our top five favorite things about the new Echo Park Lake:
Back in its original spot, the Lotus bed started getting greener just last month when the Lotus leaves popped up above the water level. While the netting will remain over the plants for about a year to prevent birds from eating all the new plants, the Lotus blossoms have started to bloom, about a year ahead of schedule!
As soon as the city decides on what vendor to bring in (we vote for Homegirl Cafe!!), the boathouse will not only be a fully operating kitchen, it will also support the peddle boats once again! At next year’s Lotus Festival, the dragon boats will also launch off of the Boathouse’s deck.
There are two boardwalk-style structures around the lake that act as observation decks – one on the north end is a large wooden deck overlooking wetlands, the other on the West end is a concrete deck. Both have benches and some signage on the information of the lake, and are definitely going to be the coveted spots to chill.
Although the number of birds declined at last December’s bird count, over the years there have been over 70 species of birds counted at the lake. Now that there is plenty of water and potentially lots of food, we expect a number of them to return – in fact at the media preview this month, we spied one with its next just at the shore!
The number one question we get asked every year is when the Lotus Festival and when the Cuban Music Festival will be celebrated at the Lake. Unfortunately this year there will be no festivals as the new sod needs some time to establish. But next year we can count on the famous dragon boat races and more!
Want to see more photos of the Lake? Click here to visit our Facebook album.
See you at the grand opening at June 15!