New start for For­mosa Cafe

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Roger Vincent roger.vincent@la­times.com Twit­ter: @rogervin­cent

The celebrity haunt dat­ing to Hol­ly­wood’s Golden Age will re­open next year, run by bar op­er­a­tors who spe­cial­ize in re­viv­ing his­toric prop­er­ties.

The For­mosa Cafe, a le­gendary celebrity haunt dat­ing to Hol­ly­wood’s Golden Age, will re­open next year un­der man­age­ment by lo­cal bar op­er­a­tors who spe­cial­ize in re­viv­ing his­toric prop­er­ties.

Humphrey Bog­art en­joyed his scotch and Frank Si­na­tra re­put­edly pined over Ava Gard­ner at the For­mosa in West Hol­ly­wood, which closed in De­cem­ber.

Los An­ge­les bar op­er­a­tor 1933 Group has leased the red-and-black, Asianthemed es­tab­lish­ment and vow to re­vive its his­toric f lair.

“We want to bring it back to its hey­days of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s,” said Dmitry Liber­man, co-owner of 1933 Group.

The restau­rant on Santa Mon­ica Boule­vard at For­mosa Av­enue first opened in 1925 and was oc­cu­pied by the For­mosa Cafe from about 1945 to 2016. It is next door to the former Sa­muel Gold­wyn Stu­dio, later known as Warner Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios and now called the Lot.

The lo­ca­tion near ma­jor movie stu­dios in nightlife­cen­tric West Hol­ly­wood made the For­mosa a fa­vorite for gen­er­a­tions of celebri­ties and night club­bers in search of food and drink.

It will prob­a­bly cost more than $1 mil­lion to up­grade the For­mosa to mod­ern restau­rant stan­dards and ren­o­vate the place to re­store its orig­i­nal sen­si­bil­ity, Liber­man said. The process will take about a year.

Liber­man and his part­ners Dim­itri Ko­marov and Bobby Green al­ready op­er­ate nine other Los An­ge­les-area bars, including the bar­rel-shaped Idle Hour in North Hol­ly­wood and High­land Park Bowl in High­land Park.

Both were painstak­ing ren­o­va­tions of his­toric struc­tures.

The Idle Hour was built in 1941 to re­sem­ble a cask, while High­land Park Bowl was a 1920s bowl­ing al­ley that fell into dis­re­pair and be­came a punk mu­sic club and hang­out. It’s now L.A.’s old­est op­er­at­ing bowl­ing al­ley, 1933 Group said.

“Most of our ren­o­va­tions are as orig­i­nal as we can make them,” Liber­man said. “We save as much as we can.”

At the For­mosa Cafe, 1933 Group will bring back Chi­nese and Thai menu items and in­tro­duce craft cock­tails, he said. Dim sum will also be served, per­haps into the wee hours.

The state Se­nate has ap­proved a bill that would let bars stay open un­til 4 a.m. If the bill be­comes law, “we plan to serve food as late as pos­si­ble,” Liber­man said.

Terms of 1933 Group’s 10year lease for the 3,700square-foot build­ing with land­lord Clar­ion Part­ners were not dis­closed. Clar­ion owns the For­mosa and the large West Hol­ly­wood Gate­way shop­ping cen­ter next door.

Sev­eral bar op­er­a­tors wanted to rent the For­mosa but Clar­ion chose 1933 Group for its ex­pe­ri­ence with his­toric saloons, said real es­tate bro­ker Gabe Ka­dosh of Col­liers In­ter­na­tional, who rep­re­sented the land­lord.

“We wanted some­one who could em­brace the prop­erty and face the hur­dles of preser­va­tion,” Ka­dosh said.

Ken Hively Los An­ge­les Times

THE FOR­MOSA CAFE, which closed in De­cem­ber, was one of the lo­ca­tions used in the 1997 film “L.A. Con­fi­den­tial.” Bar op­er­a­tor 1933 Group has leased the Asian-themed es­tab­lish­ment and will re­open it next year.

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