Mary Mallory/ Hollywood Heights: Hollywood Cafes Then and Now

 

Hi-Land Kwik Lunch
The Hi-Land Kwik Lunch, 1714 Highland Ave., courtesy of Mary Mallory.


 

Thanks to vintage photograph, films, and ephemera, buildings still live on, even if eventually they were demolished and/or replaced. Sometimes thankfully they still survive. Here is a story of two buildings: one that survives and one replaced, revealing their place in the life and business of Hollywood, California.

Early in the history of Hollywood, 1714 Highland Ave. existed as a residence in the sleepy little farming community, just across the street from the Hollywood Hotel. Charles Hoffman resided here in 1913, not long after the streetcar line was constructed in the street, on what many believed would become a major thoroughfare. In 1914, Roy Gage, a wire man for the Telephone and Telegraph Company, resided in the home.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

 

Maison Gaston Match 2
The Maison Gaston, 1219 N. Vine, courtesy of Mary Mallory.


 

By 1921, C. V. Williams operated a small diner/cafe out of the address per the Los Angeles City Directory, serving many people who sped through the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland. As John Bengtson points out in his blog, “Silent Locations,” Buster Keaton filmed a chase for “The Goat” down this street the same year, running past this building. It was even mentioned in an issue of Motion Picture magazine that year.

By 1925, Mr. Williams owned a chain of diners in Hollywood: 1714 Highland, 7560 Sunset Blvd, and 1626 Cahuenga Ave. They were named the Kwik Lunch in 1926, per the photo, which shows the 1714 N. Highland Avenue establishment, called the Hi-Land Kwik Lunch. Ironically, around this time or even earlier, the Harold Lloyd Corporation owned this as well as the buildings just north of it, per Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety permits. Williams changed the name to Kwik Lunch Steak Shops in 1927, and then opened another business under the same name across the street in 1929 at 1731 N. Highland. By 1930, all of the cafes were defunct, possibly due to the Depression. Around this time, Cecil B. DeMille purchased 1731 N. Highland, owning it for decades after.

image
The opening of the Maison Gaston at 1219 N. Vine St. in June 1944, Los Angeles Times.


 

The Faust Cafe opened in 1930 at 1714 N. Highland per the City Directory, and operated through at least 1937 per ads in the Los Angeles Times. City Directory listings during this time only mention the operators’ names: Thom Christos and J. A. Panos. In 1939, Nick Economopulos ran a cafe at this location. On September 20, 1934, the Harold Lloyd Corporation pulled a permit to remove the first 15 feet of the buildings at 1712-1718 N. Highland for the widening of Highland Avenue, replacing it with more than 12 feet on the back of the buildings.

Howard Harper purchased the building in the 1950s, and began selling alcohol in 1958 to increase business. He sold to Dick Mordigian in 1959. The little building continued on as a bar, becoming a dive bar known as the Power House in the 2000s. In November 2014, it opened as an upscale establishment under the same name, with the original brick and wood beams exposed for all to see.

image
The complex at 1714 Highland, including the Power House, via Google Street View.


 

1219 N. Vine Street has undergone many changes over the years, from residence to meat market to grocers to restaurant to used car dealership and now cultural center. 1219 N. Vine began as a residence, because there is a permit that year to move the James Elliott residence from that location to 912 Wilcox.

On January 6, 1923, Walter Bishop pulled a permit to construct a brick store building at 1217-1219 N. Vine St. designed by Hollywood Architectural Service Co. It quickly became an all round market at both those addresses. Albert Schenck operated a meat market at 1219 through at least 1931, while Davis and Davis grocers also operated through 1930. Samuel and Gus Rennie ran a fruit stand through 1926, with Thomas Rezzo taking it over in 1927 and then Frank Hedain in 1930. 1219 is also listed as Vine Street Market in 1929 in the City Directory.

Permits were again pulled in October 1930 to change the front windows and the like. Some time between this date and 1933 the French restaurant Maison Gaston opened its doors. On March 1, 1933 a permit was pulled to erect a neon blade sign above the restaurant. It was operated by John Davioni and Gaston Rossignol in the mid-1930s, with only Davioni’s name listed in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It was a French Table D’Hote and full courses along with wine along with free parking. A second branch was opened at 9844 Wilshire Blvd. in 1934.

Taglyan Cultural Complex

The Taglyan Cultural Complex, 1219 Vine St., via Google Street View.


 

Permits were pulled in 1939 to remove and alter the brick front facade of the building into a reinforced concrete exterior. Skylights were added and restrooms were renovated, all to freshen the look and help business. Some time in the early 1940s it shuttered for a time, to be reopened in June 1944, as the June 15, 1944 Los Angeles Times reported that Dan Jensen, formerly the maitre’d at Trocadero’s and Jules Kuentz, formerly employed at Trocadero’s and other locations, would reopen under the Maison Gaston name. They prominently mentioned the serving of cocktails in a June ad, perhaps changing it more into a cocktail lounge.

In 1946, Maison Gaston’s added Bob Leine as pianist as a way to increase business, and then also began offering lunch in 1947. Operators tried all means to bring in new customers to build revenue. Steaks and other entrees were played up in 1948 ads before the restaurant’s eventual demise.

Maison Gaston Auction
Contents of the Maison Gaston to be auctioned, Dec. 9, 1951, Los Angeles Times.


 

The December 9, 1951 Los Angeles Times ran an advertisement listing the December 10 auction of furnishings from the restaurant including 19 leather upholstered booths and a U-shaped cocktail bar. By 1953, 1219 N. Vine Street set vacant.

Competition Motors purchased the location in 1954 in order to sell used automobiles, and in 1956 hired renowned architect Paul R. Williams to renovate and update the structure into an automobile showroom/sales department.

By the mid-2000s, 1219 N. Vine had served as a garage before becoming a community hall. Over the next several years it was again renovated and updated to become the Taglyan Cultural Center, hosting high end events, banquets, and awards ceremonies, once again a fine dining establishment.

Buildings are often adaptively reused as with 1714 N. Highland, while others such as 1219 N. Vine are demolished and rebuilt. Often only photographs, permits, and ephemera reveal the original beginnings and histories of such establishments.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Architecture, Food and Drink, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mary Mallory/ Hollywood Heights: Hollywood Cafes Then and Now

  1. Sam says:

    The Power House was a drinking spot in the early 60’s for me when I worked the parking lot on McCadden which went all the way through to Highland by the bar. Several of the other lot guys, a couple movie people and others were regulars there. Never any trouble occurred during my association there. I guess you could call it a dive.

    Like

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