1. PUB CRAWL
Cedd Moses wants downtown L.A. to be the kind of place where people can walk from tavern to tavern like New York or San Francisco. Now he’s moving into restaurants, like the eatery downstairs from his new whiskey bar Seven Grand, on which Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD will consult.
Fraser will also weigh in on the new menu for Cole’s, one of the two 100-year-old downtown restaurants claiming to be the originator of the French dip sandwich. The French dips will remain, but with braised meats, prime rib and artisanal mustards. “It would be a crime to change the interior,” Moses says of the restaurant. “We just have to clean it up a little bit.”
Moses is also opening a private club, the Doheny, near Staples Center. The members-only spot will donate 10% of its proceeds to charity, Moses says.
2. OLD-SCHOOL OPULENCE
Andrew Meieran flip-flops between producing (he just set up “We Are All the Same” with Naomi Watts) and restoring historic properties, first in San Francisco and now in downtown L.A. “Somehow the two things combine in a weird way — they’re both about creating a vision,” he says.
His club the Edison, in a former boiler room with mirrored rows of generators, set the bar high for decor in the area.
Meieran is now working on opening Mercury Liquors in a former bank vault on Sixth Street, with a “Blade Runner”-style noodle bar upstairs and a mobster-meets-art nouveau speakeasy vibe in the downstairs bar.
“People are embracing the history of these buildings,” he says, “It’s more like old-school New York.”
3. LOFT LIVING WITH A FRENCH TWIST
The newly refurbished, mixed-use Biscuit Co. Lofts and Toy Factory Lofts in downtown’s Arts District have become magnets for restaurateurs and celebrities alike (David and Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham bought a unit in the former). Steven Arroyo, the man behind Cobras & Matadors, will open the new French brasserie Church & State in the Biscuit building by late summer.
4. GRAND DESIGNS
The Grand Avenue project brings a massive 3.6 million-square-foot development smack into the center of downtown, filling in the empty space between Disney Hall and the County Courthouse.
Some are questioning whether Frank Gehry will be able to get along with developers, the Related Cos., long enough to finish all three phases; others wonder whether the planned mix of chain stores and restaurants will be distinct enough to characterize what developer Eli Broad optimistically called “the Champs Elysees of Los Angeles.”
5. PLEADING THE 5TH
Also looming for north downtown is a high-rise condo/luxury hotel overlooking Pershing Square that L.A. developer David Houk hopes will change the city center’s skyline.
The $1 billion project, Park Fifth, if completed as planned, will be the tallest residential building west of Chicago. One of the project’s two towers would top out at 76 stories, with the five-star hotel planned for 14 stories. The blueprint calls for 732 condos and 218 hotel rooms, with restaurants and stores at street level.
The ambitious project will likely break gound early next year.
6. IN THE ZONE
Anchored by the Staples Center, L.A. Live is going with a more corporate look. ESPN is moving its regional headquarters and studios to the development, including an ESPN Zone restaurant and sports bar.
Other restaurants set for L.A. Live include Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar; the Farm of Beverly Hills; the Conga Room; a branch of Celestino Drago’s Il Pastaio; Katsuya; Yard House; and Rosa Mexicano, a New York-based Mexican restaurant with a David Rockwell design.