Flintridge Proper: A restaurant for La Cañada

On a recent Saturday night at Flintridge Proper, well-dressed couples and multi-generational families occasionally left their tables or bar stools to talk to people they knew across the room.

The 3,000-square-foot La Cañada Flintridge bar and restaurant feels more like the inside of a neighbor's living room than a place that serves oysters and champagne cocktails. Two separate rooms evoke two different atmospheres — one a library with historic memorabilia and photos, the other a chic lounge with tall, custom-made chairs and bartenders in suspenders mixing up vintage cocktails.

PHOTOS: Flintridge Proper in La Cañada

The place quietly opened a month ago on Foothill Boulevard in the former location of Los Gringos Locos, which has since moved down the street. Since then, owner Brady Caverly said, it's been hard to manage large dinner crowds on weekends.

In a town where large chain establishments are ubiquitous, including some that are viewable from the windows of the Proper — McDonald's, Trader Joe's and Starbucks — Caverly said he wanted to create something unique and local to the area.

"There's a real community sense here," he said. "Everybody's friends with their kids' parents friends. And they all like to hang out with each other, but there's no place to do it here."

He tapped architect Sam Marshall, who has worked on a couple of hip eateries in Los Angeles, to transform the place into a two-room area where La Cañadans feel at home. Caverly also wanted the design to work all day, since the restaurant opens at 7 a.m. and closes as late as 1 a.m.

In the front room, which is more casual, a morning coffee and pastry bar turns into an oyster bar at night. The seating area, well-lit and cozy, is popular for families. The back room, dim-lit with sofas and stitched ceilings, is designed as a lounge area for cocktails. The equestrian headpiece for the bar is a replica of a cast-iron arch that once stood at the head of bridle trails.

Many of the products are made on site, from American cheese to ice cream to gin — the latter of which Caverly hopes to have the nation's largest selection. The gourmet comfort food menu is also Caverly's way to appeal to the whole community. He said he wanted dishes that teens and families could enjoy, such as macaroni and cheese and a burger with fries. For those wanting more of a fine dining experience, the menu also offers dishes like grilled salmon and steak.

La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce President Pat Anderson said the Proper fills a need in the community for a late-night place. Before, residents would have to drive to Montrose or Glendale to get a drink or dinner late at night.

"It's one more way we can keep folks in our city," she said. "I think it's a great restaurant and having them open for breakfast, lunch and dinner gives folks many choices."

Caverly has big plans for the Proper's future.

The walls in the front room have bookshelves filled with mementos from the city's past — a 1960s Jet Propulsion Laboratory programming manual, a photo of the collapse of a bridge that was under construction for the Foothill (210) Freeway, school medals — which Caverly and his wife, Mary, scoured flea markets and the Internet to find.

Soon, said Caverly, those bookshelves will be labeled with guides. He also has plans to document the city's history on an empty wall and add a community chalkboard that will display events such as high school football games and plays.

Caverly said he told the designer, "If what we create here would work downtown or at the beach, we did it wrong. It's got to be so specific to La Cañada Flintridge that it only works here."


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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