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As Opening Nears, Cole's Neon Gets Relit

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008, at 09:53AM
Cole's Neon Gets Relit Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Cole's restored neon sign, lit for the first time on Monday.

Closed since early 2007, Cole's took another step toward its return today as neon gas was brought back to life in the famed bar's restored sign.

Cole's, of course, is one of two Downtown establishments to claim the invention of the french dip. The beloved sandwich will return, served from a large, new carving station located directly inside the front doors. Also back unchanged is the original 40-foot mahogany bar.

Located in the Pacific Electric building, now P.E. Lofts, Cole's claims to be the city's oldest continually operating restaurant, having been established in 1908.

Complementing the meat will be six custom varieties of mustard, also available for takeout purchase. Chef Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD is in charge of designing a menu with no item over $10, and operating chef Michael Dinon will be running the kitchen. Dinon is a Boston transplant who lives in South Park and loves being able to walk to work. Like many in the neighborhood, he thinks last summer's Ralphs opening was a transformational moment for Downtown Los Angeles.

News of Cole's sale to 213 (Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar, Seven Grand) early last year brought concern that the bar would lose its historic charm. While interior work is still wrapping up, a look at interior designer Ricki Kline's work leaves little doubt that the venue's character has stayed intact. Kline talks of wanting to create a sense of confusion over which details are original and which are not. The plentiful historic elements lend a thorough authenticity to the new elements of the design.

Cole's looks to reopen in November, just in time to catch the tail end of the bar's 100 year anniversary. A street fair is planned, though the exact date is not yet set in stone. 213 is also behind a project across the street at Santa Fe Lofts, set to open in 2009.

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