Echo Park live/work building future home vegetarian restaurant

It’s been almost a year since Echo 1030 opened its doors for leasing its 20 loft-style, LEED Certified units, and now it looks like the retail/commercial space on the first floor is getting a new resident.

According to Eater LA, the eco-friendly building located at 1030 Alvarado is the future home of an unnamed vegetarian restaurant run by DJ Goura Chandra and Raffi Roumdikian of Seven Bar. Opening hopefully early next year, the restaurant joins nearby vegan restaurant Elf Cafe and newly opened Mohawk Bend. The Eater LA article describes what the new restaurant will have to offer:

Chandra, who has been a lifelong vegetarian, says that dishes served at the unnamed restaurant are based on “all my crazy and tasty food creations,” and while he will definitely oversee foodstuffs, he will most likely not serve as the day to day chef. In addition to a conventional dining room and lounge, the restaurant will also encompass a to-go counter selling wraps, sandwiches, and salads “in our mini Whole Foods-type convinience store which will be a part of the restraunt (no dividing walls).”

And because vegetarians do like to drink, expect plenty of booze. For the most part, the alcohol program centers around micro-brews and boutique wines, but cocktails will be available as well. Chandra says that he’s a big fan of craft beers and has a big hop craving :) (his smiley face, not ours). For both food and drink, he plans to source locally and seasonally. Right now the space is raw and a full build-out is to come. Oh, and because Chandra hails from a music background, he intends on lining up DJs to play “cutting edge alternative music” in the restaurant’s lounge area.

The question is… can we have this many craft beer joints in Echo Park? Between Sunset Beer, Mohawk Bend, Red Hill (upcoming), El Prado, and the many restaurants with their own great beers on tap – my wallet might suffer. Echo Park is certainly becoming a hub for craft beers and restaurants!

 


New vegan spot takes over former Mooi location, opening soon!

Twitpic by kindkreme

Raw-vegan restaurant Mooi may have closed down in January, but that hasn’t stopped a couple of its former investors to open up a new vegan stop in the same location.

The owners of Millie’s are teaming up with vegan ice cream company KindKreme to open a combo restaurant, Sage Vegan Organic Bistro and KindKreme desserts, in the former Mooi space on Sunset Blvd. and and Logan. While they are technically two different businesses, you won’t have to worry about paying for your dessert on a separate check.

Some new things to expect at the new vegan spot: Raw options are available, but the menu will be also include cooked items, including “vegan comfort food,” as described by Mollie Angelheart of KindKreme. She lists some of the menu items for the Bistro, whose chef once worked at Flore, as “really delicious stuff, really unique food.” Hearing about items from the menu will make any non-vegan hungry: Hearty, delicious items like chili, polenta, portabello mango sloppy Joe sandwiches, falafel, artichoke tarts, mac n’ cheese, salads, and other seasonal food. You can also keep an eye out for Farmers’ Market specials on Fridays.

As for KindKreme, they’ll be tantalizing you with raw cakes and cheesecakes, fudge pies, pudding pies, gluten free cookies from Baby Cakes LA, and even waffles (think turning a vegan waffle into a made-to-order sundae or ice cream sandwich). The only thing she thinks might technically not be vegan in the shop is that they provide honey for your tea – a product Mollie feels particular about as the daughter of an upstate New York bee keeper.

The KindKreme counter will also serve up Groundworks coffee, including cold pressed coffee with house made nutmilk (almond and cocount made at their Pasadena location), fresh juices, espresso, and tea.

Sage Vegan Organic Bistro and KindKreme will be open 11:00 am – 10:00 pm weekdays, open until 11:00 pm on Fridays, and will be offering brunch on the weekends from 9:00 am until 10 or 11:00 pm.

The location could be open as early as this weekend or next week! Like the photo above, they’ve been posting photos of their progress with the renovations on the KindKreme Twitter page. We’ll also keep you posted for their grand opening event once the details are finalized.

And, in case you’re wondering, you can enter the restaurant from the main doors on the corner.

Sage Vegan Organic Bistro / KindKreme is located at 1700 West Sunset Blvd. here in Echo Park.


New restaurant Red Hill in Echo Park making headway

We got the heads up about this new restaurant back in November when we spoke to Echo Park resident Jason Michaud (owner of Local in Silver Lake) about newly opened vintage store Tosen in Echo Park. But the details hadn’t been quite set in stone yet as he had been negotiating with property owner Walgreens for quite some time on opening up in that space. Now, they are still working on the details for the menu and specific ideas, but construction is moving forward on the old Phoenix Bakery at Echo Park Avenue and Montana (across from AYC) for the much-anticipated new restaurant they are calling Red Hill.

For those who aren’t familiar with Echo Park/Elysian Height history, the older parts of Echo Park like Elysian Heights was where artists, radicals, socialists and free-thinkers of all sorts found safety and seclusion. Communists joined them in the 1920s during the first Red Scare (a lot came from Boyle Heights), earning Echo Park the nickname of Red Hill (also “Red Gulch”). This is where the new restaurant’s name comes from.

Mario Orellana, formerly Lazy Ox Canteen sous chef, has teamed up with Jason to open up Red Hill. They are keeping very, very busy with another restaurant opening in downtown near Grand Central Market call Chimu – slated to open mid-February, it’s a Peruvian takeout restaurant. Red Hill my open as soon as this summer, and will focus on American cuisine.

Red Hill will be open for brunch, lunch and dinner, with a primary focus on dinner. They are also “looking forward to making a great lunch spot for the locals,” said Mario, and hope to serve beer and wine.

The Phoenix Bakery building has been collecting dust for quite some time (probably because Walgreens has always wanted to have a drive-through put in), so it’s a welcoming sight to see it getting fixed up. One thing that also needs to be worked out: Neighboring restaurant Allston Yacht Club uses valet and parks patron cars in that parking lot.

We are looking forward to trying out Red Hill when it opens this summer!


Construction making progress at the new Mohawk Brasserie

Owner Tony Yanow posted this little sneak peak on Facebook today, with the caption: “It looks like a total construction zone, but there is a lot of stuff brewing at Mohawk. Stay tuned for updates.”

It does look like there’s a lot going on! From how things are now, it’s hard to imagine how everything will be put together, but based on the initial layout concepts Tony showed us at a recent Echo Park Improvement Association meeting, there will be restaurant seating near the front, and bar seating in the middle and in a garden area in the back. I’ve always wondered what it looked like in there – it’s nice to get a peek inside!


Owner of new Echo Park restaurant speaks up

I got a chance to speak with Tony Yanow, owner of Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank as well as the new restaurant being installed in the old Ramona Theater in Echo Park. The reason for our conversation revolved around concerns brought up by residents involved in the www.echoparklife.org website, which we wrote about last week. Mr. Yanow wanted to address a few of those concerns, including parking, bar hours, and the wood-fired pizza oven.

Parking

Mr. Yanow says he has secured well over the 54 spots required for a restaurant that size. While details are still being worked out, he has approximately 80 spots so far. As far as how many people he expects to be in the restaurant at any given time, he would “absolutely love” for all 200 seats in the house to be full at all times, but isn’t convinced the presence of the new restaurant will increase the parking problem (or rather, not much) for the neighborhood than there already is. He has suggested to neighbors they research getting a placard system for their neighborhood (residents surrounding Dodger Stadium are well-versed in that effort).

In addition, he will be installing bike racks outside of the restaurant like he has at his other restaurant, Tony’s Darts Away located in Burbank.

Restaurant hours

“I have long hours,” Mr. Yanow told me, “but the reason for the long hours isn’t because I want to flood the neighborhood with noise and debree.”

Tony’s Darts, he says, has been open for four months without a single complaint from a single neighbor. Tony and his family live in Los Feliz, and says he loves Echo Park and understands the community. He says the new restaurant in Echo Park is not going to be an upscale place, but a nice, friendly family place that he can bring his own family to. He will be posting a sign (you’ll see one similar to what he’s posting in front of the Short Stop in Echo Park) that will say something along the lines of “be nice to our neighbors” and keep the noise down. It’s important to him that he has a restaurant that is “in keeping with what the neighborhood vibe is.”

Pizza oven

Mr. Yanow says his pizza oven is the same oven they use at the California Pizza Kitchen establishments. Everything is up to code, ducted properly, and no different than any other gas appliance, so he doesn’t feel it will be a problem with the neighbors.

Live music and noise

Apparently the old theater was, on occasion, used as a space for some louder bands to play in the past, and neighbors complained because of the noise. There’s just a big, giant hole in the roof, which Mr. Yanow is sealing and actually replacing the entire roof so that noise won’t be directed at the neighbors behind the building, but instead being directed toward the street in the front. The back of the building is 16 feet underground, and a new air conditioning system is being put in, so the building will be better insulated. He says that he does have permits for live music, but no permits to sell tickets pre-sale or charge a cover, and no permit for dancing. In his words, “it’s not a nightclub, it’s a restaurant.”

It seems like the bottom line for Mr. Yanow is that he really does want the new restaurant to help the property values along that block (there are quite a few empty store fronts). “That block is under-served, and could be such a magical block, but it seems so desolate. I think the community will really respond to the food and the alcohol. I can’t stress enough about how excited I am about the menu.”

The menu is going to be very “fresh” and will depend on local farmer’s market finds, so it will be changing based on what’s available. He and and his family are vegan (his seven-year-old daughter is, for the most part), so they plan on having a vegan menu in addition to the non-vegan menu. A lot of the hype revolving Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank is a large drink menu with vegan beers, and he plans on extending a similar bar menu into the Echo Park establishment (he comes from a craft beer background and focuses the menu on local and/or California beer).

I asked him about the restaurant next door, Elf Cafe, and whether or not he thinks they’ll be competing. As a vegan himself, he LOVES Elf Cafe. “Our food is very very different from what they do at Elf, so I hope we’ll be a nice compliment to each other.”

Tony's Darts Away wine keg, Flickr photo via greenlagirl

Besides the beer, I have to admit I’m a little excited to have more restaurants in Echo Park focused on the basics of being environmentally friendly (hat tip to Masa, which offers compostable to-go packaging). Apart from the napkins and straws that you have to have in a restaurant, he plans on having zero waste from bar. They’ll reuse everything when they can (menus are printed because they will change often, but they will reuse those), and everything is post-consumer waste. They are operating as a bottle-free bar, where beer is kegged and even wine is custom kegged for them.

Other than that, count on the new restaurant to be a place where you can watch a Dodgers or Lakers game, but sports won’t be on all the time.

Initially, the restaurant was to be called El Camino, but they are still playing around with the name. If you’d like to give in your two cents for what it should be called (perhaps think about something represents Echo Park) visit the Facebook page for Tony’s Darts Away and share your ideas for the restaurant name.

Finally…

The website Echo Park Life has gotten a lot of criticism lately regarding their efforts, but they did respond yesterday and will hopefully clarify some things with readers (including why your comments may not be showing up on the site), so take a look and maybe you’ll get a chance to see them at the upcoming meeting on Wednesday to discuss issues revolving the new restaurant at the old Ramona Theater. They are nice people, we just all need to be on the same page and understand where everyone is coming from.

The Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues committee will be meeting on Wednesday, August 18 at 7:00 pm at Williams Hall, Barlow Hospital, to talk to Mr. Yanow and other residents about what to expect. I’ll be posting the agenda as soon as it’s published. See you there!

UPDATE:
Looks like Mr. Yanow and his crew have decided on a name for the new spot, and are calling it Mohawk Brasserie. Click here for the Facebook page.

Related Articles:

  • “Old Ramona Theater Begins Transformation.” July 28, 2010. Echo Park Now
  • “Echo Park restaurant owner responds to his critics.” August 16, 2010. The Eastsider LA

Xoia Vietnamese restaurant opens in Echo Park

Xoia Vietnamese restaurant (pronounced soy-yah) opened up last Friday, and we finally got a chance to go check out the new diggs and try out the menu.

Right now, Xoai is having a soft opening – meaning there is a limited menu and cash only (that was a surprise for us – we had to run down to the ATM a couple of blocks away for cash). They don’t serve alcohol yet, but according to Eating LA may apply for a license some day.

Echo Park Now didn’t attend the restaurant’s “community night” on Monday where bloggers and press were treated to sample the soft opening menu, so we ventured out last night and ordered just a couple of dishes on our own. I was feeling under the weather, and with the temperature outside unusually cool lately, I had to warm up with some pho. I ordered the vegetarian Pho Chay with tofu, my dinner date the Pho Tai with rare steak.

The broth is delicious – heavy on the anise flavors and plentiful. At first I didn’t think the broth had enough heat (I like mine spicy and steaming hot), but that was nothing a little sriracha didn’t fix. As mentioned, the vegetarian dish had plenty of broth and plenty of noodles, and while there were only about five chunks of tofu there were a LOT of mushrooms (mini portabello I believe). I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms (flavor good, chewing not so much), so I avoided those as much as I could. Other than that, it was tasty and while I put good dent in the bowl I couldn’t finish the whole thing in one sitting.

Vegetarian Pho

Oh yes, and my dinner partner really liked the Pho Tai.

I don’t eat red meat, but there seemed to be a pretty good balance between poultry, red meat, and vegetarian options. Though the menu doesn’t say, I did ask our server and the spring rolls do come vegetarian as well (on the menu they have pork and shrimp).

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