Cafe Metropol's Angie An and Paul Im
Angie An and Paul Im keep the music alive in the Arts District.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Veggie Burger Man.
It isn't a name I try to deny. After all, I do visit Cafe Metropol on a weekly basis and order the garden burger every time. Every once in a while I'll bring a group of people with me and they'll also order the garden burger. So I feel this title is well deserved.
But it isn't just the garden burger that has led me to become a regular at Cafe Metropol the last few years. It is also the amazing jazz musicians that appear on their stage every weekend.
Recently, after eating a garden burger, I sat down to ask Owner Angie An and booking agent Paul Im about what keeps them going strong.
MONK TURNER: Cafe Metropol has become a mainstay in the Arts District. Can you talk about what things were like starting out?
ANGIE AN: Back then, there was nothing like Cafe Metropol. There was Little Tokyo for Japanese food, TV Cafe, or fast food and we wanted to have something that had good, healthy European food and good coffee. Back then you didn't have Starbucks or anything else. We started with European sandwiches and fresh organic salads. Before we opened we had people waiting outside our window saying "open, open, open." They were so excited that something was going to be here. Back then we had a lot more artists here because it was affordable. So we had a lot of artists hanging out smoking cigarettes and drinking cappuccinos. Then we also had the business customers from city hall, the financial district, and the fashion district. We had more people coming in and my partner, Guido Ganchow decided to break through the wall and expand.
MT: And when you guys expanded, is then when you starting hosting live music?
AA: No, actually it was a couple of years after that. I had hired Rocco Somazzi as a server and he suggested we have a jazz venue. I was open to that and I said "you set it up and run it." He set that up two years back.
MT: Paul, can you tell us a little more about what you guys are currently doing with the venue space?
PAUL IM: Angie and Metropol have been very supportive of music and the arts here for a long time ever since Rocco and it is thriving right now. We generally concentrate on jazz. We are supporters of the local Los Angeles jazz community. We feature the best players in L.A. twice a week, sometimes three. The music varies from modern jazz, to vocal jazz, we've had a big band in here...
PI: Yeah, it was quite an experience. We've had electronic music. All the great players love it and it has been a treasured venue for the musicians to be able to perform. The interesting thing is that Metropol is one of the few rooms that provide the listening experience. People can come in and have a great dinner, enjoy themselves, have great wine, have great food and yet at the same time it is a listening venue unlike a bar where you just have background music. We feature great music along with the great menu that Angie has here.
MT: It can be so hard in L.A. to find a place where people are there to actually listen to music instead of just talk over it.
PI: Yeah, people can talk but it is a relaxed atmosphere and it is a listening experience. People know they can come to Metropol and get the great wine, great beer, and the European Bistro experience and know they're going to hear great jazz here every weekend.
MT: Very controversial question, what is the best dish on the menu?
AA: Well according to you it is the garden burger. [laughter] It is difficult to say because everyone has their own favorites. Our sesame ginger chicken has always been the staple of our menu. We stay true to European style food. We don't make it complicated.
Cafe Metropol's live music schedule isn't complicated either. You can find amazing live jazz acts performing Friday and Saturday nights with music starting around 8pm. They are open Monday thru Saturday from 11am to 10pm (midnights on weekends). I recommend the garden burger. The cafe is at 923 E. 3rd and more info can be found at: http://www.cafemetropol.com/