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French restaurant opens in historic Los Angeles building January 31, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Restaurants.
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The Schaber’s Cafeteria building in 2010.

A French restaurant recently opened in the historic building that once housed Schaber’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles, near the original western terminus of Route 66, according to the Los Angeles Downtown News.

Schaber’s and its building opened at 618 S. Broadway in 1928, less than two years after the federal government officially commissioned U.S. 66. Schaber’s closed in that location in 1947. Now, the Mgaieth family is trying to bring vitality back to that site.

According to the newspaper:

In December, the family completed a $2 million renovation of the space that was heavily damaged in the 1992 riots, at which time its main occupants were not Schaber’s, but rather a Carl’s Jr. and a Foot Locker.

The space has been reborn as Les Noces Du Figaro, a 16,000-square-foot, two-level restaurant with a bakery, take-out counter, bar, deli and room for a future lounge and live music. […]

Under the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, which 14th District City Councilman José Huizar launched five years ago, the street has seen a rapid acceleration of activity. New restaurants including Umamicatessen and Two Boots have opened. Destination businesses such as the Ace Hotel and Ross Dress for Less are under construction.

Still, Figaro stands out for the compelling design, the size of the investment and the French cuisine.

“From the visual appeal of the building’s historic architecture and the restaurant’s design to the incredible food, I was really impressed,” Huizar said in an emailed statement. “The Mgaieth family clearly love what they’re doing and have put their heart and soul into this restaurant.”

After many years in Paris, the Mgaieth family moved to the United States six years ago and successfully ran the Figaro Bistrot in L.A.

Business was slow when the newspaper visited the Broadway restaurant, but the family’s track record provides hope that the new eatery will eventually prosper.

An excellent primer on the history of Schaber’s Cafeteria can be read here.

(Hat tip to Scott Piotrowski)

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