Hotel Normandie was built by famed Los Angeles architects Albert R. Walker and Percy A. Eisen in 1926, falling into a state of disrepair between its original incarnation and the 21st century. That is, until architect and preservationist Jingbo Lou gave the historic building a much needed update in 2010. FE signed on for the ambitious project, working for the next four years on the property’s various spaces.
We started with remodeling and updating the hotel service kitchen that supplies the entire building, including room service to hotel guests. The hardest component of this part of the project was orchestrating the limitation of occupants for the entire building. We had to negotiate a compromise with Building and Safety to allow the increase of the several uses now present, like having a separate service kitchen, two restaurants, and a bar all in the same building.
Next, we worked extensively to relocate and restore Cassell’s Hamburgers, a neighborhood staple since 1948. As an all-day eatery with a restaurant, bakery, coffee and bar, there were many uses to consider when moving the space. FE crafted the kitchen design and layout for the multi-purpose restaurant and secured ABC licensing, entitlements, and health permits for the space.
In addition to Cassell’s, Le Comptoir and The Normandie Club occupy Hotel Normandie’s grounds and also needed ABC licensing, entitlements, and health permits. On top of these services, for The Normandie Club speakeasy we assisted in bar equipment design.
All in all, working with Hotel Normandie as a historic landmark made the process of obtaining entitlements, ABC licensing, and health permits much more challenging. Although a long process, it was certainly a rewarding one. Hotel Normandie stands as a reminder of another era in Los Angeles, one that continues to serve visitors and locals alike. And even though we completed the hotel’s multiple spaces back in 2014, our relationship didn’t end — we continue to be the main health department consultant whenever trouble arises and remain friends with owner and architect Jingbo.
Blossom’s location in Silver Lake may be known for its classic Vietnamese food, amazing wine program, and two-tiered dining, but the process of legalizing all of the above wasn’t exactly easy. FE signed onto the project to provide kitchen design and alcohol licensing for the restaurant’s second location.
In terms of kitchen design, FE took the layout provided by the architect and converted it into detailed kitchen schematics that fit into initial concept drawings for both the ground floor and the subterranean level. This entailed finding the necessary kitchen equipment and knowing how logistics, operations, and code compliance would work together cohesively in the space. Additionally, we ensured everything in the back of house was code compliant and up to department standards while also providing plans for the rest of the project.
The opening of this location of Blossom, however, proved to be more difficult than just kitchen design. The restaurant had to obtain a Conditional Use Permit to allow for the sale of beer and wine since the previous tenants had not sold alcohol. This process required collecting community support, attending public hearings regarding the change, and passing amendments through the Silver Lake City Council. We were proud to stand next to our client through the entirety of the process, serving as Blossom’s public representative and spokesperson as we convinced hesitant locals of the value of adding the restaurant to the neighborhood and the positive track record of its owner, Duc Pham.
Additional requirements for opening the restaurants including securing an additional 15 parking spots, facilitating an official Geological Report to allow subterranean dining, and passing a hardship claim that altered the compliance of the ADA restroom due to the disproportionate cost. Now, the restaurant is busy revitalizing the Sunset Junction area with its authentic Vietnamese food, astounding wine program, and underground speakeasy feel.
Photo courtesy of Blossom.