January 18, 2018

The Venice Whale of a Tale

Since opening in 1944, The Venice Whaler has been a community anchor in Venice Beach, providing food and drinks to locals and tourists and even the likes of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Doors. When ownership changed back in 2014, restaurateur Mike Dobson called FE Design to help update the historic property.   The Whaler’s long history in Venice gave it certain advantages and disadvantages which FE researched extensively and took into consideration while working on the project. What started as an effort to legalize a portion of the outdoor patio to serve alcohol morphed into a more complicated issue.   Due to its age, The Whaler was entitled to certain grandfathered rights that protected it from new … Continued



December 18, 2017


When Sage Vegan Bistro approached us about helping them expand into a brewery at their original Echo Park location, we knew it was a project we needed to be involved in. The innovative expansion planned to address a problem that many Los Angelenos didn’t even know existed — that most beers aren’t actually fit for a vegan diet, as many breweries use animal-derived additives and ingredients. More importantly, no vegan drinking establishments even existed in the L.A. area!   Situated in the heart of Echo Park, the original Sage Vegan Bistro location in the historic Jensen Recreation Center posed some inherent problems. Before starting the project, FE sorted through all of the logistics of installing a brewery in the 1924 … Continued



November 18, 2017


I’ve been working with Karen and Quinn Hatfield since their first place, Hatfield’s, opened on Beverly in 2006. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to be their permit consultant for all of their restaurants — The Sycamore Kitchen, Odys + Penelope, and, opening soon, The Mighty. You could say we work well together. I really appreciate the level of trust and respect that we have for each other.   For their three newest restaurants, the couple approached me to ensure their intended spaces would be feasible. For both The Sycamore Kitchen and Odys + Penelope, the Hatfields came to me with just a napkin sketch — literally. With this rough idea, I brought the sketch to life, working on kitchen … Continued



October 18, 2017

Breaking Ground with El Nido

If you’re not familiar with all of the work that El Nido Family Centers does for the L.A. area, you should be. Since 1925, El Nido has served as one of the city’s most respected social service agencies and currently benefits more than 10,000 children, youth, and family members a year. The non-profit focuses on providing social services to disadvantaged communities throughout Los Angeles County in the hopes of empowering low-income communities to break the cycle of poverty, child abuse, violence, academic failure, and teen pregnancy through educational, youth development, health, and therapeutic services.   Recently, El Nido has been working to grow their Garden to Table Youth Development Program. The program ultimately aims to be a biodynamic garden and … Continued



August 18, 2017


One of our biggest permitting challenges came to us through Tintorera, the newly-opened seafood-centered Mexican food restaurant in Silver Lake. When Mexico City restaurateur Walter Meyenberg approached us about helping him open his first restaurant in the U.S., we immediately started researching the property’s background.   The restaurant’s space looked perfect for what Walter envisioned — a small indoor property for the restaurant’s kitchen and speakeasy and a large adjacent outdoor patio that could seat the bulk of Tintorera’s diners. The main problem? The entirety of the outdoor patio had been illegally constructed by the property’s previous owners, meaning that Tintorera could not legally utilize the patio even though the restaurant previously operating at the address had.   Since the … Continued



November 2, 2015

Conversations from Above

Recently, on a flight from Rome to New York I met a woman whom I will call Kathleen. Our conversation began awkwardly as she noticed my concern while she swallowed a handful of pills with her Baileys and cream. She laughed and reassured me that what she had was not contagious, but PTSD. Kathleen was in the US Army, and had recently left active duty.  Now she was here, sharing her stories and pretzels with me.   It’s a 10 hour flight; the conversation we shared that evening went deep and made its mark. We discussed our struggles growing up, our life paths, and her feelings about military life. At one point, she asked, “when did you realize that hospitality … Continued