Cassell's, the classic 6th Street Koreatown hamburger joint opened by the late Al Cassell in 1948, has reopened just a few blocks away, on the ground floor of the Hotel Normandie. The new location features the original wooden Cassell's sign inside, the original menus -- and a refusal to serve French fries.
Christian Page, who helmed the kitchen at Short Order, is manning the grill, using Cassell's original crossfire broiler, grinder, patty press and recipes.
"It's not chef-centered," Page said. "If anyone is the chef here, it's Al Cassell and the spirit of him. Just doing our best to do things the way he would."
The burgers are made from house-ground prime beef and served with Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles on a Parker House bun. And of course, instead of fries, there's potato salad. A 1/3-pound burger is $10.99, and a 2/3 pound-burger is $15.99.
If you just have to have some fried potatoes with your burger, there are house-made potato chips.
"We're not trying to start a revolt," Page said. "Some people want crispy, salty, fried. But out of respect to Al Cassell, we won't do French fries."
The restaurant will also have a patty melt, a ham-and-cheese sandwich, egg salad, tuna salad made with whole albacore poached in pickle brine, and breakfast. Paige said almost everything is being made in-house, except the ketchup.
There's something for vegetarians too. You can order an off-menu veggie patty made with farro, carrot, portabello mushroom, zucchini, eggs and Parmesan.
To drink, there are shakes and malts made with McConnell's ice cream, house-made sodas, selections from a coffee bar and a full list of cocktails and beer.
"We want to bring it back to its former glory," Page said, "and back into L.A. food culture."
The original Cassell's was bought by a Korean family eight years ago, and they added fries to the menu. Jingbo Lou, who owns the Hotel Normandie, bought the Cassell's concept and recipes a couple of years ago, and decided to open the restaurant in the hotel.
The new space also has a bakery section with in-house muffins, brownies, scones and cookies, and an old-fashioned dessert case with pies. The counter-tops are made of wood from the original space, and the dining room features the restaurant's original tables and chairs.
For the first few weeks, the restaurant will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., then its hours will extend to 6 a.m. to midnight.