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Essay: Feel Free To Cry When You See The New Plans For Taix. We Did

Taix French Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, photographed in 2005. (Kent Kanouse via Flickr)
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When the new iteration of old school French restaurant Taix reopens in Echo Park, it may be a shell of its former self — and not because of coronavirus.

In the summer of 2019, owner Michael Taix sold the restaurant to real estate developer Holland Property Group. At the time, he told the Los Angeles Times business had been declining while costs had ballooned, and areas of the 18,000-square-foot space, such as the ballroom, sat mostly unused.

Via an application filed with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Urbanize LA this week revealed what might take Taix's place — a six-story development with 13,000 square feet of retail space, 170 apartments (24 of which will be restricted affordable units) and a 220-car basement garage.

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The proposed development is comprised of two separate structures linked by pedestrian bridges. Taix will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of one of them, alongside several other restaurants and retail establishments.

It's a massive change from the current French Revival-style structure which has been home to Taix since 1962.

I'm no architecture critic, so this is just my gut reaction as a frequent and avid diner. Visually, the bland, boxy development is so aggressively charmless, it's hard to believe it was designed by an architecture firm. It was.

Sure, all things change. Tastes, culture, real estate, neighborhoods. And Los Angeles needs all the residential units it can get. But do these developments have to be so uniformly ugly? Do we need yet another shining example of McUrbanism? (We can't take credit for that term.)

In recent years, most people weren't going to Taix for the food. They were going for the ambiance. Taix was a perfect spot to sink into a chair and cozy up while sipping a martini or slurping a bowl of onion soup.

If you're not going to keep any of that, if you're going to replace it with some slick generic nonsense, you might as well drop the name Taix and call it Another Corporate Gastropub You Can Forget About Two Minutes After Finishing Your Overpriced IPA.

The exterior of Taix French Restaurant, located at 321 Commercial St. in downtown Los Angeles. City Hall and the U.S. Courthouse and Post Office are visible in the background. (circa 1956) (Security Pacific National Bank Collection/Los Angeles Public Library Collection)

Taix (pronounced "tex") is one of the oldest restaurants in Los Angeles. It opened in 1882 as Taix French Bread Bakery at 321 Commercial Street. Back then, the area surrounding the old plaza was a hub for French immigrants. Over the decades, the bakery expanded and became a hotel with a full restaurant.

In 1962, "Les Freres Taix" opened in Echo Park. Two years later, the original restaurant was razed to make way for an office building, and the Sunset Blvd. establishment became Taix.

It would be great if Holland Property Group had understood what made Taix special and cared enough to hold onto some of that but real estate has no room for sentimentality.

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Aside from maybe a few pictures on the walls as a nod to the establishment's history, does this new iteration of Taix even deserve the name?

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