As downtown's historic Grand Central Market undergoes renovations, new retailers are moving in as part of the planned revival of the 1917 community marketplace.
Valerie Confections owner Valerie Gordon said the coffee-and-pastry shop will open in phases, at first offering all of the same pastries she sells at farmers markets, such as her Durango cookies (chocolate chip cookies with roasted almonds, cacao nibs and smoked salt), seasonal fruit galettes and hand pies, as well as croissants, danish, muffins and a few lunch items. To go with the pastries, drip coffee will be $2 a cup.
Hours will be Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but as the market renovates, the hours, along with the menu, will expand. "We'll be expanding our menu in two different phases; it will be more elaborate with each phase," Gordon said.
"The menu and concept are an homage to the market itself. I did a lot of research into the history of the market, the culture behind a lunch counter and what that means and the relationships that happen there. I went through tons of old menus pulling out really classic great lunch-counter food.
"Melted cheese on toast, which is what a grilled cheese sandwich was once called. Fruit cup. Silver dollar pancakes. An exact replica of the Cobb salad served at the Brown Derby, not veering at all from what was printed in the Brown Derby cookbook."
Gordon likened the process to the development of her classic cakes, including the Brown Derby grapefruit cake, Blum's coffee crunch cake and Scandia's apple cake, staying true to the original while using the best ingredients available.
Valerie at Grand Central features a small kitchen and 12-foot red linoleum counter, discovered recently underneath a wood counter top. "It's so great the peeling back that's happening there. We peeked underneath the wood counter to find red linoleum. It's the chicest red counter -- red stools and red counter."
Gordon said she expects to open Valerie at Grand Central in three to four weeks. "I've been hunting downtown for years and years and years. I love the history of the market. It just plays so perfectly into what we do and what we appreciate."
Grand Central Market, 317 Broadway St., Los Angeles, (213) 624-2378, www.grandcentralsquare.com.