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Echo Park storefronts transforming

A wave of recent restaurant and storefront closures (Villainy, Barragans, and more) in Echo Park has many wondering about the changing face of the neighborhood. But there’s been some new activity in those sad, dusty storefronts that will hopefully make Sunset Boulevard feel a little less empty.

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Photo via Villainy General Store

Former Nuvia’s

This restaurant space, formerly Nuvia’s and then La Botana, has been closed down for nearly two years. Located on the north side of Sunset between Laveta and McDuff, we thought we were getting a gastropub in the space back in 2012. But The Eastsider LA reports some new activity in the space – unfortunately the owners did not provide any details on what kind of restaurant. One things is for sure – we hope it’s not another pizza joint.

The owners expect to open in four months.

Dinette

Owner of Cafe Stella in Silver Lake, Gareth Kantner, purchased the building on Sunset where E’Pack Family Clothing Store plus the Sunset Snack stand is. Well, was. Recently the construction wall (what the heck do they call those?) went up around the storefront, a sign that the transformation into new take-out and dine-in sandwich shop has begun.

Kantner told The Eastsider LA they expect to open in February of this year. In addition to sandwiches like Lobster Rolls and Po’boys, there will be grilled meats, vegetarian dishes, and oven-baked pizzas.

Lassen’s

FINALLY something is being done to the former Save-A-Lot store next to the Walgreens at Sunset and Logan. The grocery chain shut down in March of 2011, and has been sitting vacant ever since. There were pipe dreams of a Trader Joe’s, and what appeared to be decent traction on a Fresh & Easy until the company went bankrupt.

Although we knew Lassen’s Natural Foods & Vitamins was taking over the location back in June, there is now some signage and a lot of activity in the building. We’re not sure when the store will open, however we’re not sure how well-received the location will be in Echo Park – the Lassen family has in the past made donations in support of Prop 8, which many aren’t happy about.

Trencher

Still a work in progress, despite hopes to open in December, Trencher took over a former Mexican/Salvadorian place (before that Phnom Penh’ Vietnamese) on Portia and Sunset. Expect pulled pork sandwiches, open-faced sandwiches, tofu banh mi, sliders, and more. We’re standing by for the opening any day now.

Barragan’s

Barragan’s held it’s farewell party in December, and the change of ownership notification lists The Lost Knight as the new business name under the control of Alan Moore. We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about what this space will bring… what do you think? For now, the front doors of Barragan’s sit quietly in the shadows.


Shop local: Specials in Echo Park on Saturday

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The 4th annual Echo Park Shop Hop takes place this year all day on Saturday, December 14 (same day as the Echo Park Community Parade!)

Check out the event lineup below, or click here to view the Echo Park Shop Hop Facebook event page.

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Villainy General Store closing for good

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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?


Rumor Mill: Cortez in Echo Park closing? (UPDATE)

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Could it be true? Only a year and week (to the day) after Cookbook owners Marta Teegan and Robert Stelzner opened Cortez in Echo Park, our rumor mill reports that it could be closing for good.

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!

UPDATE:

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!


8th Annual Frogtown Artwalk on Saturday

Frogtown Artwalk 2013

The Frogtown Artwalk returns on Saturday, September 28 for its eighth year in a row.

One of our favorite annual events, the artwalk is family-friendly event in neighboring Elysian Valley, just a hop, skip and a jump from Echo Park. It’s never crazy crowded, you meet lots of neighbors, and there’s always a little bit of wine and local craft beer flowing.

This year, the “river pavilion” will feature live music along with info on the river restoration efforts. Creator of the “LA River Catz,” Leo Limon, will be at RAC Design Build along with Mary-Austin Klein (the artist whose work is featured at the top of the The Eastsider LA website). There are a lot of youth events, including a youth art show on River Ecology. And for the first time at the Artwalk is Bookshow LA at the NOMAD art complex, featuring a selection of books in an interactive retail space.

There are a ton of great events throughout evening, click here to view the Frogtown Artwalk map with full event details.

We posted some photos of past Frogtown Artwalk events on our Facebook page, click here to check it out!

8th Frogtown Artwalk
Elysian Valley – Coolidge Avenue to Blimp Street
Friday, September 28 from 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Visit frogtownarts.com for more info.


Support Echo Park Historical Society with a pizza at Mohawk Bend

Getting hungry? We are! All through the month of August, Mohawk Bend is supporting the Echo Park Historical Society by selling you delicious pizza.

Through the restaurant’s monthly fundraising campaign, Piece of the Pie, Mohawk Bend has created a custom pizza called the Historical Ramona. A portion of the proceeds from each pizza sold will directly benefit the Historical Society. On top of the pie: rapini, red onion, cerignola olives, cherry tomatoes, parmesan, and an olive oil drizzle.

The Echo Park Historical Society is a group focused on the preservation of the community, including fantastic things like the Jensen’s Recreation Center sign, and even the Ramona Theater that now houses Mohawk Bend. Support history in Echo Park by stopping into Mohawk Bend through August 31!

This is also a chance to celebrate a bit of history in the amazing theater-turned-Mohawk Bend. The Ramona Theater (also once galled the Garden Theater and Studio 1) remained vacant for about 30 years until owner Tony Yanow came in with the restaurant just a couple of years ago. But the theater was opened in 1914, so Mohawk Bend is celebrating the building’s 100th birthday and its own 2nd birthday with some special events.

From August 8 through 13, Mohawk Bend will be tapping special, limited-release beers, and guests are invited to play beer bingo to win prizes. On August 14, there is a special reservation-only anniversary party featuring the unveiling of a collaboration beer with Golden Road Brewing.


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