New Bars Downtown LA; Cole's PE Buffet sold to new owner!

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New Bars Downtown LA; Cole's PE Buffet sold to new owner!

Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Jun 16, 2005 10:59 am

Sure, I'm looking forward to seeing the new 50' neon being installed on Broadway Bar, and the cocktail lounge proposed for the Neptune Building, but the whole Cole's sale scares me. I know Cole's and Phillipe's patrons have been duking it out for years, but I wholeheartedly prefer Cole's French Dips over the dry other's. The fact that change is coming freaks me out and I don't know the details which makes my mind wander toward the horrible possibilties that the food service may fade away under new, liquor-oriented management. Save the French Dip! And I'll take a Long Island please.


Here's the article:


Los Angeles Donwtown News
Investors Belly Up to the Bar

A Growing Downtown Nightlife Scene Has Many Raising Their Glass
by Kathryn Maese

When Cedd Moses and Marc Smith opened the Golden Gopher last year at Eighth and Olive streets, few thought the rock 'n' roll bar wedged between a low-income hotel and a boarded-up building would make just about every "hot" list around.


Cedd Moses (center) and partner Joe Baxley (right) will open the new Broadway Bar this month. Moses has two other bars in the works. Ricki Kline (left) is designing the posh interiors. Altogether, about a dozen bars and lounges are being planned in Downtown. Photo by Gary Leonard.
Fewer still, including the owners, thought profits would exceed initial projections by 50% in just the first three months. Yet both of those happened and now, encouraged by the success, they're expanding their liquid empire: Moses this month will open a posh venture called the Broadway Bar, while Smith is renovating a stunning bank vault into a lounge set to debut in late summer.

But the trend isn't stopping there. Fueled by Downtown's thirsty new residents and happy hour-hungry workforce, nearly a dozen watering holes are set to bolster the area's sparse nightlife in the next year, from a jazz and whiskey lounge to a salsa club to a revamped railway bar.

"I'm over Hollywood. It's oversaturated," said Craig Trager, the investor behind hotspots Well, Daddy's and NoBar. "People are bored and want to enjoy something new."

Trager is the most recent big-name investor to find potential in the emerging Downtown market, which will house a total of 27,000 residents by year's end, according to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. He said he plans to close a deal by next month on a ground-floor space in a Broadway building (around the corner from Smith's bank vault at Sixth and Spring streets). Even more surprising: He's paying $3 a square foot for the space, more than he pays in rent for his Hollywood haunts. He hopes to open by next spring.

Though Trager declined to give specifics on the deal, he said he was attracted by the building's history and architecture. Trager is known for eschewing velvet rope hype in favor of stylish comfort - jukeboxes, dim lighting and stiff drinks.

However, getting the right space can be the easy part. Only 25 liquor licenses a year are available for new bars in all of Los Angeles, and the number of applications continues to grow. Moses had to wait a year for his new Seventh Street bar, and the permitting and legal fees alone cost him $100,000. That doesn't count physical renovations and opening costs.

Bar Hoppers Paradise

A more potentially devastating pitfall is notoriously fickle patrons; hip bars draw celebrity crowds one month, only to be snubbed the next by the latest hotspot. But for investors like Trager and Moses, experience is everything.

"I'm not banking on any following from my other clubs coming to Downtown," Trager said. "The one thing I knew when I built my first bar in North Hollywood is that you have to generate enough talk and writing about it. Who I was and what I had done didn't matter."

Much like Hollywood's 15-block principal concentration of more than 30 bars and clubs, many envision Downtown growing into a bar hoppers paradise. For years the Los Angeles Conservancy has tried to turn the Broadway corridor into a vibrant theater district packed with clubs, cocktail bars and restaurants, though the effort has had little city or financial backing.

But that could change soon. Moses, who developed the Westside's popular Liquid Kitty and Cobra Lily, is poised to open the Broadway Bar this month. At 8,000 square feet, the split-level space is nearly three times larger than the Golden Gopher. Located next to the Orpheum Theatre in the Platt Building at 834 S. Broadway, the cocktail lounge is based on Jack Dempsey's eponymous New York bar. Designer Ricki Kline gave it an old Vegas feel complete with a 50-foot neon sign out front.

"We're trying to revive and bring back some glamour to Broadway," said Moses, who worked with developer and Orpheum owner Steve Needleman to strike a deal. "We've been trying to do a bar on Broadway for the last three years. This will be the first I want to do there."

Moses is moving quickly on his next endeavor as well. He's secured a liquor license for Seven Grand at 515 W. Seventh St., which will occupy the former Clifton's Silverspoon Cafeteria that closed about eight years ago. The $1 million project will feature a high-end whiskey and cigar bar on the second floor with leather and wood finishes, pool tables, an outdoor patio for smokers, and live jazz trios. It's expected to open in October.

Several restaurateurs are also negotiating with Moses to partner on a steakhouse or brasserie on the ground floor of the building, which he owns. Across the street, residents will begin moving into 80 condos at the Brockman Building.

Moses said he is planning a third bar at the northeast corner of Third and Alameda streets called Neptune's. Although still in the conceptual phase, the venture will rise on the roof of the five-story Neptune building at 701 E. Third St. He has secured a lease, but said he is waiting on a liquor license.

"We lost Al's Bar in the Arts District, so there's a void and we're hoping this bar will fill that," Moses said. "It won't have live music, but will be more of a cocktail lounge approved for dancing and DJs."

Million-Dollar Lounge

Smith also has plans for three bars. The first, Bills, will open in the 6,000-square-foot basement of the Los Angeles Trust and Savings Bank Building at 215 W. Sixth St. The "speakeasy-style" bar is set amid an immense bank vault. Smith said the $1 million cocktail lounge is expected to open in late summer.

Smith is purchasing the historic Cole's P.E. Buffet inside the fabled Pacific Electric Building, which he will restore to its former glory - Tiffany lamps, a sleek wood bar and historic memorabilia. Smith hopes to attract a lively residential crowd in the evenings, particularly once the apartments above open this summer. The project likely won't get underway until the fall.

Smith's third venture is a lounge called Harlem Place on the ground floor of the Higgins Building at Second and Main streets.

Smaller investors are also angling to get in on Downtown's growth. Damian Useda and partner Luis Moreno opened Sabor restaurant and lounge about two months ago in a rundown building at the corner of Union Street and James M. Wood Boulevard. Useda, who was attracted by the existing liquor license, pumped $40,000 into renovating the space with "trendy Mexican decor" and margarita lounge. The growing clientele comes for the salsa, merengue and cumbia music.

Useda said he's beginning to see Downtown residents trickle in for happy hour, as well as the Thursday night "cine y cena," or dinner and a movie, which showcases independent Latin films.

"I decided to give it a chance and see what happens," Useda said. "With all the stuff that the Business Improvement District is doing and the new construction taking place, I think it's a positive thing for our business."

Others, like Tom Pratt and his wife Jackie, are also taking advantage of Downtown's business friendly stance. The couple, which owns Gallery 626 on Spring Street's Gallery Row, plans to open what would be Downtown's first wine bar in the space next door. Pratt said he worked closely with the Valley Economic Development Company, which offers help with business loans, tax breaks and location scouting, to secure the deal.

"We're taking advantage of the fact that we're in an empowerment zone," said Pratt, who was in San Francisco last week researching wine bars. "I came from Santa Monica where my business license was $2,500 a year. Now it's $25."

The 1,200-square-foot venue, called 626 Reserve, is expected to open in October on the ground floor of the City Lofts. The interior will feature warm, rich colors, art and occasional poetry readings.

At least a dozen more bars and clubs are being discussed by developers looking to fill ground-floor space in new residential buildings. Likewise, large-scale projects such as the retail and entertainment promenade planned along First Street and Grand Avenue in the next few years is slated to include a number of bars and clubs, while the LA Live project next to Staples Center is set to explode with a variety of after-five tenants.

As for Downtown becoming oversaturated with clubs and bars like Hollywood, many say that reality is a long way off. In fact, investors welcome the competition, saying the activity will only spur business with a diverse customer base.

"I think that as long as the operators are good, that it's good for the area," Moses said. "It creates a critical mass and a destination for Downtown nightlife."

Contact Kathryn Maese at kathryn@downtownnews.com. 6/13/2005

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Re: New Bars Downtown LA; Cole's PE Buffet sold to new owner

Postby davidk6 » Thu Jun 16, 2005 1:14 pm

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Postby nichols » Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:50 pm

I talked to Smith about this last month and he assured me he wasn't changing anything significant. He loves Cole's and is thrilled to be the new owner. He said he examined their business carefully before buying it. He was impressed with the quality of food they were ordering and specifically mentioned what high quality meats they were buying. The kitchen needs to be rebuilt and he needs to add a handicapped entrance. He also made a mention of removing some of the "weirder" items from the menu. I cried "noooo" and he laughed and said he would reconsider. Ha!

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Postby Lynxwiler » Fri Jun 17, 2005 2:11 pm

Dave --
I usually order the beef French Dip, but i don't recall an offering of two kinds. Maybe they were offering corned beef as another option. I've also taken to their turkey Fench Dips.

I realize I'm in the minority for enjoying Cole's food over Philipe's, but I find the difference in quality of food (less gristle and fat), and the qualitity (the sandwiches are thick with meat).

Hopefully the new owner will keep the mac and cheese!

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Postby nichols » Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:22 pm

I hear the deal didn't go thru and Cole's is up for sale again...


Here is a piece in today's Times that doesn't mention this at all..


LOS ANGELES TIMES

April 13, 2006
A NIGHT AT COLE'S


It's social security


Everybody knows your name at L.A.'s oldest restaurant and bar.


(Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)



In the swampy back room of Cole's P.E. Buffet, L.A.'s oldest restaurant and bar, the downtown dive feels like a small-town church. Lights beam through stained glass while the audience sings "amen" with the ragtag country band I See Hawks in L.A., some with their eyes closed, some holding hands.

It's the kind of moment that defines Cole's, a welcoming beacon occupying a stretch of 6th Street, an area jaunty with downtown hucksters by day and spookily desolate by night...

http://www.calendarlive.com/nightlife/c ... 3553.story

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Postby nichols » Mon Jul 10, 2006 12:27 pm

Death of a Dive?

With Prominent Bar Owner Looking to Buy Cole's, Some Regulars Already Feel a Loss

by Andrew Moyle

Long before restoration began on the Main Street façade of the Pacific Electric Lofts building several weeks ago, a handful of longtime patrons around the corner at Cole's P.E. Buffet were nervous...

http://ladowntownnews.com/articles/2006 ... news03.txt

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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:37 pm

Did Bills ever open?

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Postby Lynxwiler » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:33 am


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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:11 am

From the Downtown News:

COLE'S P.E. BUFFET
ICO Development is close to securing a lease with nightclub developer 213 Ventures to revamp the 98-year-old belowground bar and buffet at 118 E. Sixth St., said Steve Reinstein, a senior vice president at the company. The building operator, PE Lofts, LLC, purchased the bar as part of ICO's $60 million renovation that transformed the defunct structure into the 314-apartment Pacific Electric Lofts; Reinstein said only some details remain to be worked out with Cedd Moses' 213 Ventures, creators of the Broadway Bar and Golden Gopher. If the deal doesn't go through, Reinstein said, other entities are waiting in the wings to take over Cole's, the city's oldest continuously operating bar and restaurant.

MERCURY LIQUORS (formerly Bill's)
Andrew Meieran has hired designer Thomas Shoos to bring a bit of classic Hollywood nightlife to Downtown with the transformation of a former bank vault in the basement of the Los Angeles Trust and Savings Bank Building at 215 W. Sixth St. The retro bar is awaiting the completion of condo conversions in the building above. The 8,000-square-foot basement will feature white marble floors, walnut wood paneling, polished stainless steel walls and much of the original architecture, including the vault's 38-ton circular door.

SEVEN GRAND
Downtown-based 213 Ventures is set to open Seven Grand, which it claims will have the largest selection of whiskey this side of the Mississippi, in late October. At 515 W. Seventh St., the $1 million venture will be the biggest bar 213 and its president, Cedd Moses, has created to date (it previously opened the Golden Gopher and the Broadway Bar). The 4,500-square-foot space will offer 16 beers on tap plus a full bar and will feature two patios, two private rooms, live music and a dance floor.

www.downtownnews.com

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Postby nichols » Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:55 am

Lynx, Thanks for the tip on Royal Clayton's. Had a great meal and it was so fun running into you there last nite!
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Royal Claytons

Postby kellyarch » Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:03 am

Searching for posts on Royal Claytons, great to see some elce has found it, went to the grand opening last week and went there for lunch on Friday, delicious. They may be open for breakfast by the middle of October. :D
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Re: New Bars Downtown LA; Cole's PE Buffet sold to new owner

Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Sun Oct 15, 2006 11:53 am


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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Sun Nov 19, 2006 7:29 pm


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Postby nichols » Mon Nov 20, 2006 12:06 pm

Incredible space. Cavernous and impressive. Three years of buildout.

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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:03 am


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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:28 pm

As I understand it — Cole's is changing ownership on March 1 and shutting its doors for who knows how long as the interior is rejiggered to accomodate two more businesses besides the landmark 1908 eatery. Seems a coffee shop and night club will bookend Cole's which will undergo a little plastic surgery. Who knows what the end result will be — I miss the mac and cheese already.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:30 pm

Cole's being gutted / cleaned up.

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Postby nichols » Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:20 pm

DOWNTOWN NEWS

... Two years ago he (Moses) bought the historic Cole's P.E. Buffet in what was once the terminus for the Pacific Electric. Its claim to fame had long been its French dip sandwich, though in recent years it was used primarily for filming. Its bar had all but faded except for a small following of locals.

With the tricky $1.1 million renovation nearly complete, Moses said he plans to reopen Cole's in May with a restored bar, new kitchen and inviting patio. To celebrate the venue's 100th anniversary this year, he'll kick-start a "friendly rivalry" with Philippe's, which also claims provenance of the French dip. Moses said Cole's will feature a new and improved version with custom mustards, fresh horseradish sauce and hand-sliced meats....

http://downtownnews.com/articles/2008/0 ... news01.txt

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Postby Gnomus » Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:17 pm

"Cole's will feature a new and improved version"

Aaargh! There was nothing wrong with the old and unimproved version. At least now I know how long I have to hang on before I can eat there again...

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Postby Vavala » Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:41 pm

Cole's Reopening Fundraiser for the Conservancy
Thursday, December 4


The legendary Cole's restaurant reopens in December after a sensitive restoration that renewed the century-old institution while celebrating its rich heritage. To kick off its grand reopening weekend, Cole's and developer 213 Inc. will host a private fundraiser benefiting the Conservancy on the evening of December 4.

For more information and to purchase tickets:
https://secure2.convio.net/lac/site/Eco ... oc6.app13b

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:31 pm

I just ate at the NEW Cole's last night and I really wasn't impressed. The interior, thank god, still has some of the details that I adored from the original Cole's, but the menu is simply not up to par.

The bread on the original restaurant's French Dip was laid in au jus and then piled high with meat, but at the NEW Cole's, you're given a dry piece of bread and less than 1/4" of room-temperature, gristly beef. If you want more au jus than the shallow ramekin you're given, that'll be a dollar extra please!

I think Cedd Moses can open a really kick ass bar with incredible bartenders in just about any environment. But sadly, I don't consider him to be a restauranteur.

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Postby Gnomus » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:24 pm

Well, I ate there last night, and like Lynxwiler I have to report a certain amount of disappointment. Yes, they cleaned the place up (with new bathrooms) and that's a good thing. But they managed to somehow (in my opinion) erase most of the character from the joint -- along with two whole rooms. It looks like it's trying to recreate a historical ambiance, rather than be one. There are a lot of B&W photos on the walls, but I don't remember if they were there originally or not. Looking at them, I couldn't see how they were related to Cole's or important LA history. They seemed like more faux atmosphere for an upscale audience that doesn't care about history anyway. Finally, they've added a jukebox. A couple of Doors songs played while I was there... and it just didn't feel right.

As for the food, the sandwich was smaller than they used to serve, but more expensive, if memory serves. The quality of the meat wasn't as good, either. They did dip the bread (with an option to single or double dip), so I didn't have to deal with the ramekin. I was also disappointed that they took the potato dishes off the menu, which as it now stands, only has about seven or eight items on it -- and none of them looked that interesting. The cole slaw was okay.

I'm another one of those people who preferred Cole's over Philippe's, but as it now stands, I'll be going to Philippe's to get my French dip fix.

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Postby davidk6 » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:00 pm

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Postby Gnomus » Fri Dec 12, 2008 7:47 pm


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Postby davidk6 » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:12 pm

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Postby nichols » Fri Dec 12, 2008 10:00 pm

I went to the Conservancy event and had some issues with the place, but it is generally intact and the signage looks terrific. The signs certainly don't date to 1908, but I imagine somewhere around 1945 when Harry Cole passed away.
Here's the earliest image I could find, from the 'teens? Look at the horses!
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Same in the '30s
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and then the sign we know is there by 1962
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and here is how we knew is, with "Checks Cashed" covered up and the snappy script "Cole's" font replaced with something more Olde English.
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here it is earlier this year, stripped down during restoration
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and now, all shiny and restored
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http://www.colesfrenchdip.com/
http://www.erha.org/coles.htm

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Gnomus
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Posts: 372
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:02 pm
Location: Santa Monica, CA
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Postby Gnomus » Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:21 pm

And the final cut -- when I went there (with my camera), they hadn't turned on the signs!


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