Long Closed, Mode Finally Gets Evicted
An eviction notice taped onto the front door of short-lived restaurant Mode, on Olive street.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — If you blinked, you may have missed Mode, the supposed-to-be-24-hour restaurant on Olive street. Open only five weeks around the turn of 2008, the restaurant was highly anticipated but vanished in a cloud of allegations about lack of permits and unpaid staff.
The premises have stayed untouched ever since, but now an eviction notice on the front door promises to close the book on what appeared like it would be a story about the revitalization of an unlikely block in South Park.
A write-up in the September 7, 2007, edition of the Downtown News advertised a new 3,800 square foot establishment by restaurateur Tony Jones. Mode would offer french fare and distinguish itself by being open 24 hours.
After numerous delays and date slips, the restaurant opened to great fanfare on November 30, 2007, only to shut its doors the next day. It reopened on December 5, lasting five weeks before closing for good on January 9, 2008.
In that time, news broke that B & G Cookie Company was preparing to open a delivery and retail bakery next to Mode. In fact, the cookie company had first signed a lease in June of 2006 and in November of 2007 picked up an option for an additional eighteen months, extending their term into 2010.
According to court documents in a lawsuit B & G filed against building owner DOTO Investments, when they took occupancy of the space they found that the building they shared with Mode had never been legally divided into two spaces, nor had utilities been sub-metered to separate out the two tenants.
Their suit, which is still ongoing, alleges that DOTO misrepresented the building's condition and owes B & G damages for the time and expense put into the space. The cookie company's website today says that it is "temporarily unable to fulfill orders."
Next door, Mode took a turn for the weird after its January closing. Comments on Angelenic, which had done a superb job chronicling the restaurant's travails, alleged that the venue lacked health permits and failed to pay staff. Similar complaints show up in Yelp comments about Jones' first restaurant, Royale on Wilshire.
As the months passed, passersby reported seeing an individual who appeared to be living in the Mode space. A commenter on Angelenic alleged the individual to be Jones' cousin "Robert.".
Court records show that an Unlawful Detainer claim was filed against Jones (who executed the lease under the name of "The Institute for Communication Improvement," an entity with its own shady issues) on November 19, 2008. After a legal fight, a Writ of Execution was issued on March 9th instructing the Sheriffs Department to begin eviction. The notice posted on the door carries a July 9th date.
The various deceptions served to disappoint those who were confused but overjoyed by the block's emergence. Over the course of just a few months, that stretch of Olive between 9th and Olympic went from dead zone to upcoming hot spot and back. Today, it sits unchanged, still awaiting that promised new life.
Update (Wednesday): It appears that Jones may also be the owner of restaurant Mother Road at the Hotel Stillwell, which opened this spring.