Design Destination: Je Ne Sais Quoi At Le Petit Paris In LAAuthor:Abigail Stone
Paris has always been in our hearts…even more so now. We love so much about it and, each time we visit we wonder, “how can we take a little bit of it home with us?” Of course, one of the things we love is its wonderful food, served in places that have that casual elegance that the French do so well. Le Petit Paris in downtown Los Angeles, opened by a French family, is that kind of place. It works just as well for a business breakfast or a casual lunch between friends as it does for a romantic first dinner date.
The space, designed by Beth Holden of New Theme, a design build firm in Los Angeles, is carved out of the lobby of the former Hotel Stowell also known as El Dorado Hotel. Holden, who lived in Paris for over a decade (she worked on that city’s Rive Gauche development), understands how to create new spaces from old, respecting the past while celebrating the future. The hotel, designed by architect Frederick Noonan in 1913 has a glamorous history: Charlie Chaplin lived here, Valentino and Monroe stayed here, and rumor has it that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard used it as a love nest. The 12-story building was designed for Nathan Stowell, a prominent businessman and board member of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, who also constructed the Mayan Theatre. The building’s long narrow façade is covered in green glazed brick and carved cream-colored stone; Stowell was especially proud of the building’s use of local materials including cement from Riverside, terra cotta from Glendale, and Batchelder-Wilson tiles from Pasadena. But although the central portion of the building had been converted into the El Dorado Lofts, the lobby remained empty and forgotten until being discovered in 2013 by restaurateurs David and Fanny Rolland who were looking to open a sister to their Cannes, France restaurant in Los Angeles.
There is a grandeur to the space that isn’t often found in Los Angeles. Corinthian arches and columns adorned with sconces accented by hand etched Eiffel Tower designs, double height ceilings, and vast skylights speak to a more elegant time. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a dramatic staircase that leads to the second level and a majestic walnut stained mahogany bar under lit by an LED illuminated onyx countertop.
In keeping with the ethos of the restaurant and New Theme’s practices, all the furniture and millwork was co-designed by Holden and her partner Wolfgang Melián, underlining an attention to detail, hand craftsmanship, and old-school values that is reflected in the menu where, as in the best restaurants in Paris (and indeed in France), the bread, pastries, and charcuterie are house-made from fresh, seasonal ingredients cooked and served with pride. La Boutique, a street level market storefront, sells pastries, of course there are beauitful delicate macarons, alongside Château d’Estoublon olive oils, Baobab Collection candles and a well-curated selection of fine products from France.
For more information and to make a reservation, click here.