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Bigfoot Lodge Owners Are Restoring NoHo's Barrel-Shaped Restaurant

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The historic Idle Hour Cafe in North Hollywood, which looks like a giant barrel, is getting a new life from the folks behind Sassafras and Bigfoot Lodge. Idle Hour Cafe at 4824 Vineland Avenue was first opened by Universal Studios film tech Michael Connolly and his wife Irene in 1941. It's one of those places you can't miss, on account of it being shaped like a giant barrel. Connolly and his wife actually had an apartment in the barrel portion, where they both lived until they divorced. After that, Irene ran the cafe by herself. It's been vacant for some time, but will reopen in February, The New York Times reports.

The new bar will just be called Idle Hour, dropping the 'cafe' part. It's undergone a $1 million renovation at the hands 1933 Group, which also owns Thirsty Crow, Oldfield's, Harlowe and La Cuevita. 1933's Bobby Green was inspired to take over the space by Los Angeles Magazine writer and history buff Chris Nichols.

According to Nichols, the last known occupant of the space was La Caña, a flamenco dancing spot that closed in 1984. La Caña owners Dolores Fernandez and her husband bought the restaurant in 1971. Fernandez closed La Caña after sustaining an injury with the intention of reopening, but never did. She had been living in the barrel and told Nichols in 2010 that the place wasn't for sale. Nichols was concerned as to what might become of the restaurant after Fernandez died, so he filled out an application to make the building a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. The application was approved. When Fernandez died and the city put the barrel up for auction in 2011, Nichols floated the idea of rehabbing the space by Green, who purchased the building.

If Green's other bars are any indication, then we can expect the new Idle Hour to look beautiful, but to also look a lot like the old Idle Hour Cafe of 1941. It's going to serve American food and drinks, though there are no more detailed descriptions available. The bar will also feature the pipe-smoking bulldog from The Petersen Museum's Bulldog Cafe replica on the patio, another idea from Nichols in the spirit of preservation.