Sleepy Hollywood Diner Gets a Stylish Wake-Up CallAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Years ago, when graduate student Barbara Bestor stopped by the Village Coffee Shop for what she remembers as “crappy” java, she never imagined she’d be giving the beloved diner a makeover after she earned her architecture degree. The small restaurant has reopened with a new look, a fresh take on food and an old name. Owner Patti Peck (pictured, left) officially dubbed the spot what locals have long called it—Beachwood Cafe.
“Before the remodel, it had a charming character, but it was very dark and had a 1970s Holly Hobbie look,” says Bestor. “Our challenge was to maintain the historic ambience of a place that everybody loved.”
Bestor’s sunny creation speaks to the old while ushering in the new. The same knotty-pine beams, scalloped trim and trestle tables that decorated the spot for 37 years are still here. But in place of the traditional flower-festooned wallpaper, Bestor installed a bold geometric blossom print by local graphic artist and cafe regular Geoff McFetridge. She asked McFetridge, Claire Cresbo and David Tagel to paint several mod dioramas featuring everything from woodland animals to Jurassic dinosaurs to contemporary soldiers. Bestor removed dark wood and concrete flooring, replacing it with brightly hued tiles, and took out sun-blocking cornices on the interior walls to let in more light.
“The new look is half Provençal, half Tokyo supergraphics,” says Bestor. “But I think people are really pleased when they see some old favorites here.”
That’s clearly the case, as the project recently garnered a design award from the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
As for the scrupulously locally sourced menu, Peck claims she and chef Minh Phan (pictured, right) do a different kind of balancing act.
“She’s kind of highbrow, and I’m kind of lowbrow,” Peck says. “Together, we are kind of middlebrow.” Originally, Phan was brought on as a short-term menu consultant, but she says she has no exit strategy—although she admits that Americana cooking isn’t her first love and compares the vibe of Beachwood Canyon to that of Mayberry. That said, she likens the creative cooking freedom at the cafe to a breath of fresh air in a hot and stuffy kitchen.
“We have pot pie and meatloaf on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and when I tried to use tomatoes only in season, people were up in arms,” Phan says. “But we also serve dishes such as scallops with rice steeped in coconut milk, burgers topped with spicy fennel ketchup and caramelized onions, and quinoa with wild mushrooms and shallots.” And then there’s the Bacon & Gruyère Scone where Phan applies her new spin to a beloved classic by filling it with bacon and cheese. (And we’ve got the recipe! Try Beachwood Cafe’s Bacon & Gruyère Scones recipe at home.)
Beachwood Cafe, 2695 N Beachwood Dr., Los Angeles, Tel: 323-871-1717
Open: Tue-Fri 7am-10pm, Sat 8am-10pm, Sun 8am-3pm
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