Saturday, August 4, 2007

"15" - New Italian in Echo Park


I thought the news that Two Boots was coming to Echo Park was exciting, but I'm really looking forward to the prospect of a cozy and sparkling new Italian spot in our neck of the woods. As I was leaving Walgreen's this morning, I noticed the space that formerly housed Burrito King had its arches filled in, is painted a deep brown and looked suspiciously sleek.

Pulling over for a closer look I chatted with a couple of friendly construction guys who filled me in on some basic details. 15 is going to serve Italian cuisine and is scheduled to open on August 13. According to my sources, 15 is the owner's lucky number therefore it has become the name of his/her new restaurant. Questions remain: Who is the owner and is this their first restaurant? What's on the menu? Is this the beginning of a transformation of this corner of EP?

As an Eastsider who is enjoying this eastward movement of yummy new spots (Elf Cafe, etc.), I am anxiously awaiting the opening of 15 and will, of course, report back with a review.

25 comments:

Greg said...

From the Sept 12, 2006 Greater Echo Park Elysian Valley Neighborhood Council Planning & Land Use Committee meeting:

ZA-2006-5110-CUB, Café La Paz Restaurant 1320 N Echo Park Ave. 90026

Proposed Liquor License for on-site consumption for “15” (formerly Café La Paz) and a categorical exemption. Applicant is Richard Huschitt with Toby Donally. This property was purchased two months ago. Some committee members suggested that they begin operations without serving liquor; or beer and wine only, and then move to distilled spirits. The Applicant said it would be financially unfeasible.

The restaurant is “bistro-style,” would serve 52 people and would have a 10-seat“counter” (a bar-like structure) that would view a TV that would primarily feature sporting events. Décor will be contemporary and include slate floors, leather banquets and tables and a “food counter” (bar). Many stakeholders voiced concerns and strong reservations regarding the previous owners lack of concern for the community by tolerating, crime, drugs, filth, gang activity and other nuisances. The Applicants stressed they are invested in the area and take pride in their business and would not tolerate the kind of behavior that was condoned by the previous owners. They explained that their goal was to keep food prices affordable and make the business economically sound through the sales of alcohol.

The major concern was the serving of hard liquor. The community also had concerns about the hours of operation which were amended (shortened) during discussion by agreement between the petitioners, the Committee and the community. New hours of operation are 11:00 AM to 12:00 AM Monday through Friday and 9:00 AM to 12:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday.

Parking was another issue of concern. The petitioners will have valet (off-site) parking out of necessity as there is no on-site parking available. The committee chair and others voiced some reservations about the “back-door” strategy of characterizing the project as a restaurant with a food counter, while it is, in essence, a bar with food service which would have a different legal status. After much discussion, the petitioner’s CUP was supported by the committee with a vote of 8 aye and 1 no. The support is subject to: a Certificate of Occupancy, on-site security, parking arrangements, and a one-year review of the project.

MOTION (Andrew Garsten/Michael Lawler): To SUPPORT a Conditional Use Permit (ZA-2006-5110-CUB) at 1320 N Echo Park Av., 90026 for on-site sale of a full line of alcoholic beverages, subject to the following conditions:

a. The CUB shall not be granted until a Certificate of Occupancy has been awarded following the remodel of “Café La Paz” to “15” as described by the Applicant.

b. There shall be a review of the Applicant’s adherence to the conditions of the CUB one (1) year following the opening for business of the new restaurant/bar.

c. The “Self Imposed Conditions presented to the Zoning Administrator on September 7, 2006 will be conditions of the CUB.

d. The “Self Imposed Conditions” presented to the GEPENC Planning & Land Use Committee on September 12, 2006 shall be conditions of the CUB, except (1) that the business hours will be Monday through Friday 11:00 AM until midnight, and Saturday through Sunday 9:00 AM until midnight; and (2) parking shall be provided to the satisfaction the appropriate City agencies.

e. There shall be a licensed and uniformed security guard at the premesis after 9:00 PM.

Susan L. said...

Thanks for sharing this info with me, Greg. It's interesting to see all of the behind the scenes maneuvering new restaurant owners have to go through.

So was it not Burrito King?

Rick Andreoli said...

My partner and I stopped in last night. Rick, the owner, was really cool and welcoming-- he seems excited to become a new neighborhood place.

We're stopping back in on Friday to try it out, but this is exactly the sort of hidden treat we'd been hoping for in Echo Park.

Susan L. said...

Whoa, is it open?!

Viviene said...

I am up the street and Burrito King is still open and to the right of the house of Spirits. This is in the old pupusaria place Cafe La Paz to the left of House of Spirits.
I will be interested to see how it does. It strikes me as funny they are concerned for it serving liquor or not and the effect to the neighborhood as its smack dab next to a liquor store and just yards from the rowdy, fun Gold Room.

Anonymous said...

my partner rick and i ate there last friday and had a great meal. we had the flat iron steak, the short ribs , a quesadilla, and dessert. we ate all of it! service was good and friendly. supercute inside. once they get the bar going in about a month it will be even better. the only thing missing with our meal was a glass of wine. we were told that the permit should go through in about a month. we are already planning on going back soon. i am all for supporting a new local spot.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I ate there last week and there was no air conditioning and it was hot in there...so, how fresh could the food be? My steak was tough and they wouldn't let us open our own wine bottle that we brought. The owner was saying something about his liquor license being on hold. There's a liquor store next door with a bunch of seedy people hanging out. Not exactly any room to be upscale.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment about the steak. Don't go there expecting a GREAT meal. Nice decor, no parking ...Not that cheap for mediocre food.

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I went there last week and had a truly incredible meal. The starters are delicious, the waitstaff is friendly and knowledgable and the owner came out to shake our hands. I had the kobe beef burger and I honestly had no idea a burger could taste so amazing. It was so ridiculously good, I couldn't help but laugh. My boyfriend got the fish of the day, which just melted in his mouth. I highly recommend the peach risotto. For our two main courses and two starters, we only paid about $30. I felt like I was eating in a fancy restaurant except that everything was affordable. I'm bringing my parents and my grandmother there tonight.

Susan L. said...

Too bad about the air conditioner and lack of alcohol, but it sounds like the food isn't half bad and certainly a welcome addition to Echo Park. We'll have to try it and see for ourselves.

steven said...

the air conditioner has been put in, and you can't have BYOB when you're trying to get your alcohol licence to go through. how about giving a local spot a chance to ramp up and try something new for the nieghborhood and give them a chane? anyone can come in the first week and point out what needs to be fixed. when we went it was hot , so we asked what was up. we were then told they were having the air installed in a few days. our food was really great when we went. we are taking some family there tonight. until i can also have a drink there, i'll settle for something else. at least they're working on it. having lived in echo park for a few years i am always happy to give new places a chance. when they turn out to be good, that's even better.

Anonymous said...

This is not an Italian restaurant. The decor is nice. There's plasmas everywhere. It looks like it's set up to be a bar not the upscale restaurant I assumed it to be. It's hard to have a nice meal with TVs everywhere. The food was okay, we had the flank steak. I have had better. I went in with my wife to have a nice quiet meal and the owner was constantly in our face. What's up with that? I like an attentive staff but he was creepy.

Joey B! said...

Some of the anonymous comments sounds like in-house promotional comments set to sway customers. Of course the staff will be friendly. Of course managers and owners will shake your hand. Common sense for any new business or eatery. McDonald's staff are friendly too, eat there. Paco's taco truck will shake your hand too. Really now folks, it's about the food and taste. That part of Echo Park is beyond seedy btw. Wear bulletproof vest at night please. No kidding. In last few months several murders have taken place in that very stretch of EP. Plasma makes up for ordinary dishes with no flavor flare. As with every new business, there's always room for growth and change... maybe a publicity campaign would help.

dillion said...

The parking was a drag. Then there was no wine or spirits to be had. Oh, but we did have servers and the owner greet us. Exactly what I care about when I go eat. Yeah right! I don't give a hoot who is making money off of me. I just want to be served good food. My friends and I were given complimentary sodas (cause they thought we were food critics? cause they want a good review?). Bottom line is good service is fine but it's the food that matters and the food was ok. The people in there which was no more than a handful, looked like they knew the owner. I think the owner who looks like he's pregnant needs to disappear - I agree with the comment about him being "creepy", maybe desperate for business is what he is. Someone needs to tell him that he's not Wolfgang Puck. The menu isn't very Italian. What's Italian about Plantains? They think they are better than Masa's. I didn't even see a chef back there. It was more like a cook from Chilis. And the TVs are just plain stupid just like the name of the place.

Anonymous said...

hello people my name is rick im one of the partners at 15,ive read the blogs and must say thankyou to all.im always happy to read the nice ones and i appreciate the bad ones,they give me the motivation to make things better,in reguards to dillon,i looked in the mirror i can definatley afford to lose a few pounds(ok 30)but i wasnt aware of the weight requierments ,and i feel the need to defend myself ive never said anything negative about masa,i love masa,and im a big fan of rhonda and rob,and i have been very plesantly surprised of how many tuly nice and friendly people have come into the rest,fri was packed so if your coming for the first time try any other night,and to those of you that received comps it was our way of showing customer apreciation ,and weve added a prix fix menu from 5 to 7 you get a 3 coarse meal for $15 to come and try the place out,drop in and say hi id like to meet you ,rick

Susan L. said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to both the positive and negative feedback. I'm sure both are helpful as you are learning what is and isn't working at 15. I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't tried 15 yet, but it's at the top of our list and we're looking forward to the experience.

Anonymous said...

As a college student i heard about 15 through friends. I went there to eat with a group of friends and we couldnt believe how well priced everything was. We couldnt decide on what appetizers we were going to get, so we got EVERYTHING, and it was all amazing. The desserts are sooooo yummy, especially the chocolate bread pudding croissant. WOW! The food was awesome, the service was upbeat. The A.C. kept us nice and cool. I've been to restaurants around the world, the worst of the worst and the best of the best, and this one is high up on my list as something new and something good. It will be exciting too see what the future has instore for this up and coming restaurant. Its a place to check out.

Stuart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

i was stoked to see something new go up in the EP, 15 seemed to be a cheaper version of dustys, food was only ok, but nothing special. maybe we will try again when they serve wine, but the tvs just suck. i am sorry but if i wanted to go to TGI fridays i would, but if i want a nice dinner i dont want a bright tv distracting me. ... anyway, hope they get better.....

alexsis said...

hey everyone,
i recently visited from new york and my dad is one of the partners of 15.
im absolutely sure that he and rick appreciate everyones feedback.
and i will definitely be telling my dad about any complaints ive read so that they can fix them.

When i visited the restaurant my dad kinda used me as a guinea pig for the food, which is amazing, and i think it's a really cool little spot where anyone can go and have a good meal for a enxpensive price.

ps.They do have their liqour license now.

James said...

I dined at "15" on Wednesday evening Nov 14th. Both the owners of the restaurant have a lot to be proud of. In such a short period of time, they have given place a character of it's own. Most new restaurants in the beginning, go through the experimenal phase, not knowing what direction the establishment will take. This restaurant operates as though it has been there for ten years.

I sat at the Food/Bar counter and ordered a beer for starters. A rather obscure selection of beers for my taste but, there was a Newcastle with my name on it. The pre-meal bread appetizer was interesting,sliced bread served with some type of pesto sauce, I think..Very tasty. For dinner I ordered the Filet mignon. It was served with sliced potatoes and grilled mushrooms. I did not wait for a steak knife and proceeded to cut it with my butter knife. Most lean and tender cut of Filet I've had in a long time. Steak knife not necessary!. I did not opt for a dessert item, as I was not that hungry. I'll save my appetite for my next visit.

Orverall, I like the low keyed atmosphere and a great reasonably priced meal. Jared the bartender was also on top of his game and very accomodating. This restaurant shines brightly in Echo Park!

Anonymous said...

i was just here last weekend and had a great time.
we had been when they first opened thought the food was really good, but maybe a little unfocused.we waited til they got the liquor licence and i was amazed. they have really pulled the place together. crowded on a wednesday night , the food was fantastic. the menu is much more focused and seasonal too. top notch burger too. glad i waited a bit to check back with them. i will be back soon.

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