The iconic Formosa Café, located at 7156 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, quietly shuttered during the 2016 holiday season. The restaurant had operated as the Formosa since the late 1930s.
The iconic Formosa Café, located at 7156 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, quietly shuttered during the 2016 holiday season. The restaurant had operated as the Formosa since the late 1930s.
Jared Cowan

Formosa Cafe Will Come Back Shinier Than Ever

A $150,000 grant has been awarded to 1933 Group, a hospitality company with a number of bars around Los Angeles, to rehabilitate West Hollywood's iconic Formosa Cafe.

The restaurant, which closed at the end of 2016, was opened in 1925 by a retired boxer who apparently loved trains: The lunch counter was built in a retired Pacific Electric Red Car trolley. It was built next to some of L.A.'s earliest movie studio lots, and immediately attracted a movie star clientele. And some mobsters, too. The Formosa lost some of its luster in its later years but was still beloved by nostalgics (and played itself in the 1997 film L.A. Confidential).

A remodel of Formosa Cafe was attempted in 2015, but fans of the restaurant were so pissed off by it that the project was aborted and the interiors were, as much as was possible, returned to their original state.

The Formosa Café seen in 2014, looking similar to how it appeared in L.A. Confidential.
The Formosa Café seen in 2014, looking similar to how it appeared in L.A. Confidential.
Jared Cowan

The awarded grant comes from an initiative from the National Trust, American Express, National Geographic and Main Street America called "Partners in Preservation: Main Streets." The goal of the project is to "raise awareness about the importance of preserving America's Main Street districts."

The Los Angeles Conservancy nominated Formosa Cafe, and 1933 Group will use the money to refurbish the restaurant — back to its original glory, of course — with a focus on the train trolley, which was built sometime between 1902 and 1906 and was still in stationary use when the cafe closed. The owners anticipate reopening next year.

Partners in Preservation awarded $1.5 million in grants this year to 11 sites around the United States.

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