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Cole's Set to Kick Off 100th Anniversary Celebration

By Sophia Kercher
Published: Monday, December 01, 2008, at 11:15PM
Cole's - Bar Francisco Arcaute

The historic bar at Cole's is once again ready to serve drinks after a lengthy renovation.

Cole's, which claims to be the oldest restaurant and saloon in Los Angeles, was once renown for looking as dowdy and dank as its one hundred years of existence. In just a few days, the historic Downtown hangout will resurface with a fresh make-over by 213 Downtown LA.

Those who feared that a rehab would strip the eatery of its character will be pleasantly surprised when they walk through the doors starting this Thursday. Though the bar's seen extensive work, it's very much still Cole's.

"Cole's is a beloved institution in L.A. and we've brought it back to life—which is the fun part," says Joan McCraw, the 213 Strategist and a Downtown dweller herself, as a myriad of Cole's vibrant antique light fixtures shine behind her. "It's not going to be about fast food, it's about sitting down and feeling like you're at home," McCraw adds.

The restaurant and saloon is located on 6th street, between Main and Los Angeles. It sits in the nearly cavernous hollow of the old Pacific Electric Building, once a center of real estate and the Pacific Electric Red Car railway network. Patrons can get a peek of the establishment's railroad connections in the hallway that leads to Cole's bathrooms. A small window allows a view of a stairway that once led directly into the station.

The 213 team has restored the original appeal of the old-timey restaurant. The new Cole's stays true to its 1908 saloon roots with preserved Penny tile floors, Tiffany's commissioned stain glass work and the sturdy mahogany bar. Cole's memorabilia dots the walls and there's a fully restored state of the art kitchen with special attention for take-out orders. There's even a looming, massive deer head at the side of the bar, no doubt one of 213's signature taxidermy pieces.

Cole's refurbished menu is described as "comfort food all grown up." Executive Chef Mike Dinon, who practically grew up in restaurant kitchens along the east coast, plans to serve the signature Cole's French dipped sandwich with a great attentiveness to the balance of Au Jus, crisp French rolls and meaty goodness. There will also be a varied selection of slow-cooked, hand-carved meat sandwiches, with a choice of custom-made mustards, all under $10. Long-time visitors should expect new twists to Cole's classics. Dinon plans for additions like dappling bacon and blue cheese on potato salad and on adding a modern spin to diner standards.

"For the coleslaw I'm thinking of doing something you haven't had before, maybe something seasonal to match the beer," Dinon says, assuring that he'll keep the classics on the menu along with his gourmet-revived items.

Cole's is looking forward to welcoming all members of the community with their moderately priced menu and late night bites for Downtowners. Wednesday through Saturday, the bar and hand-carved, made-to-order sandwiches will be available until 2 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday the joint closes at 11 p.m.

The opening of Cole's brings 213's ever-expanding Downtown bar empire to six. Owner Cedd Moses has previously opened the Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar, Seven Grand and the Doheny, and operates Casey's. Across the street from Cole's, Moses is at work on Santa Fe, a tequila bar slated to open in 2009.

Eager fans get their first chance to get inside on Thursday, December 4, as "Cole's 100 Premier Party" kicks off with a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Conservancy. It features a "classic cocktails soiree" with French dip sandwiches, live jazz and DJs. Cole's party-goers are encouraged to dress in 1920s inspired fashion and come as a favorite flapper, silent film star or gangster (after all, Mickey Cohen did have a regular booth at Cole's). Tickets are $50 per person, and include a performance by the City Ballet of Los Angeles depicting the hundred-year history of Cole’s. Those arriving after 9:30 p.m. will miss the show, but pay only $25 per person.

On Friday, December 5, the public is invited to stop by after 8:30 p.m. for the Dewar's Repeal Party. Drinks are seventy-five cents until 11:30 p.m. (in honor of Dewar's 75th), and then just five dollars after that.

There's a special tasting menu on Saturday, December 6, with everything priced at just 100 cents (in honor of Cole's 100th anniversary) from noon to 4 p.m. At 12:30 p.m., Moses and Councilwoman Jan Perry will be among those cutting the ribbon and welcoming Cole's back. Monday, December 8, will be the establishment's first day of normal business.

Coles, Originators of the French Dip / 118 E. 6th / 213-622-4090

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