The owner of Taix French Restaurant, a Los Angeles Institution for nearly a century, has sold the property to a real estate developer that plans to turn the Sunset Boulevard site into a housing and retail complex that will include a new version of the Echo Park stalwart.
A smaller version of the restaurant, including the bar and lounge popular with Dodgers fans, will survive the makeover. The project will add about 170 luxury apartments in a six-story complex planned by the new owner of the property, developer Holland Partner Group.
Since the 1960s, Taix (pronounced Tex) has been a neighborhood favorite for weddings, funerals and family get-togethers as well as a popular watering hole before and after games at nearby Dodger Stadium. Generations of diners have come to Taix to order country French dishes such as onion soup, mussels, beef bourguignon, steak frites and trout almondine.
But even though Echo Park has been in an economic renaissance for more than a decade, the restaurant business has been getting harder for the Taix family, owner Michael Taix said.
“My profits year by year have been going down,” Taix said, as food and labor costs have risen. “Wholesale food prices have escalated about 100% in this decade. Costs are ballooning.”
The restaurant in its current form is too big, Taix said. “There are banquet rooms that don’t get used like they used to.”
Taix sold the property at the intersection of Sunset and Park Avenue for $12 million and is now leasing the building as a tenant.
Taix said he will continue to operate the restaurant in its current form while Holland seeks city approval for the new development, a process that typically takes two years or more.
When Holland receives permission to build, as is expected, Taix will remove the bar and lounge and keep its pieces in storage along with the restaurant’s signature red sign. The restaurant will be closed during construction, which could take about 18 months, then reopen in the new complex, Taix said.
“We’ll maintain that feeling of Taix the best we can,” Taix said.
The new Taix will be 6,000 square feet, about one-third the size of the current restaurant. There will also be room in Holland’s new complex for another restaurant or other retail business about the same size.
“The goal is to maintain all the charm and all the things that make Taix Taix, but put it in a new facility,” said real estate broker Mark Tarczynski of Colliers International, who represented Michael Taix in the property sale.
Holland also plans to build nearly 50 apartments on an overflow parking lot Taix uses at Reservoir and Liberty streets.
Holland Partner Group, based in Vancouver, Wash., has built hundreds of high-end apartments in Los Angeles in recent years, including the Grace and the Griffin high-rise towers on Spring Street downtown.
Taix informed his 48 employees on Wednesday about the coming changes, he said. The Eastsider website first reported the sale. Holland did not respond to a request for comment.
Taix restaurant’s history dates back to 1882, when Marius Taix, a baker, ventured from the Hautes Alpes of France to Los Angeles and bought property on Commercial Street, where he opened Taix French Bread Bakery.
Taix’s business was in the heart of the city’s French enclave, west of Alameda Street and south of Aliso Street, where more than 4,000 French immigrants lived around the turn of the century. The building survived until 1913, when it was torn down. Taix built the Champ d’Or Hotel on the site, and leased a restaurant on the first floor.
In 1927 — at the height of Prohibition — federal agents and Taix’s pharmacist son, also named Marius, confronted the restaurant’s operator for selling alcohol on the property. The angry restaurateur tossed the younger Marius the keys and told him to “do it yourself.”
The Taix French Restaurant was born and went on to thrive, serving 28,000 meals a month. It was known for family-style eating at tables laden with tureens of Taix’s famed soup and salad, and platters of fruit and cheese.
Taix restaurant moved to 1911 Sunset Boulevard in 1964, when the city bought the downtown Taix building and other adjacent properties to make way for a parking structure. The federal Metropolitan Detention Center now occupies the site.