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Historic Broadway Cafeteria to be Revived as French Bistro

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, November 09, 2011, at 11:56AM
Schaber's Cafeteria - 618 S. Broadway L.A. Public Library

Historic photo of Schaber's Cafeteria, built in 1928 at 618 S. Broadway. The two-story structure was the only Downtown building destroyed in the 1992 riots.

A Broadway building that was nearly burned to the ground by rioters in 1992 will come back to life 20 years later as a French bistro.

Figaro Bistro on Broadway will be the second restaurant for the Mgaieth family, who also operate Figaro Bistro on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz. According to a release sent out Wednesday morning by Councilman Jose Huizar's office, the restaurant could open as early as mid-2012.

The Spanish Colonial Revival-style structure at 618 S. Broadway was the only Downtown building destroyed in the riots that erupted after the police officers who beat Rodney King were declared not guilty. Looters ransacked the Carl's Jr. and Foot Locker inside before setting the building on fire the following night. Only the facade and the mezzanine remained.

Property owner Walter J. Thomson spent more than $2.5 million rebuilding the structure from historic photos and from memory, finishing the work in 1994. According to a story about the renovation in the L.A. Times, Thomson dedicated the building to his late wife Holly Felicia Oberly Thomson, and renamed the structure the Victor Dol Building in honor of her grandfather. Dol had purchased the Broadway land in the 1800s.

The structure, next door to the Palace Theatre, is best known as a location for Schaber's Cafeteria. It was built to house the eatery in 1928, and Schaber's operated there until 1947.

2012 should be a big year for Broadway as a dining destination. Also on track to open during the year are Umamicatessen and Two Boots Pizza, both of which are headed for the block between 8th and 9th.

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