With a background in nightlife, native Angeleno Jeremy Fall has always sought to infuse elements of pop culture, music and party vibe into the food scene. Nighthawk Breakfast Bar, his first restaurant, which he opened after running two successful bars in Hollywood, was an inspired idea that surprisingly hadn’t been done before — a breakfast-for-dinner concept with themed cocktails inspired by the Sunset Strip in the ’90s, “when rock stars would go eat pancakes at local diners after their shows,” he explains.
“Nighthawk was definitely the concept that shaped a lot of what came next,” the 29-year-old Fall says of his evolution into food. “It was weird to do at a time where kale salads and charred octopus were on every single menu, and people weren’t looking for rich food or dairy-based drinks. So, it helped by getting enough attention that would allow me to carve my path into doing other concepts that were outside of the box.”
Fall’s latest eatery is equally novel in approach, though one might say it’s in the box this time — the boombox, that is. Mixtape, which took over the locale on Beverly formerly occupied by BLD, meshes the native Angeleno’s love of flavor and sensory satisfaction, a spot where music, art and food come together to reflect and affect diners’ dispositions. Creating a retro ambiance is still part of his vision, but these days he’s even more focused on creating individual experiences, the kind that we never forget and come back to our favorite places for.
“I’ve been wanting to create the Mixtape concept for a really long time and open a restaurant that feels like an autobiography of my upbringing and love for Los Angeles,” Fall enthuses. “Growing up multicultural with parents from different backgrounds allowed me to draw inspiration from old family recipes that I got to develop with my insanely talented kitchen team. The name Mixtape represents my love for music and having been able to translate the traditional “musical mixtape” into the food space by collaborating with a group of musicians.”
Fall’s collaborators — which include the likes of Quincy Jones, Serj Tankian, Brandon Boyd, Jaden Smith, Robin Thicke and Tokimonsta — contribute in various ways inside the restaurant, from painting, sculpture, music and uniforms, to of course, the playlist. The young entrepreneur likens the nostalgic elements throughout Mixtape to “a mood ring,” which is probably best reflected by the cocktail menu crafted to represent emotions and vibes.
Drinks are grouped by feelings such as “relaxed,” “playful” or “pensive,” with concoctions to match. Those who sit at the bar also get to choose one song that conveys the mood of their drink, making for a true mixtape soundtrack inside the space. The food is equally eclectic, with whimsical snacks such as duck fat popcorn, pork belly nuggets and steak tartar tostadas, and bigger comfort style dishes including whole Cornish hen and pastrami agnolotti pasta.
“We put a list together of a diverse group of musicians that were all reflective of culture and would create beyond their craft,” Fall shares. “The Mixtape concept is based on being multicultural with the food being inspired by my mixed family, and we wanted to make sure that ethos extended into every other facet of the restaurant, including the art. My favorite part about the collaboration is that we get to showcase these artists creating outside of the medium they’re known for.”
As a kid, Fall lived above a cafe in downtown L.A., where his mother worked. His stepdad was a chef. His parents gave him the inspiration to make all of his concepts diverse and taught him a strong work ethic early on. He worked in marketing and promotions at Avalon Hollywood in his teens, and soon after launched Genesis, a five-week pop-up inside a vintage attic in Hollywood. Genesis became a permanent hotspot soon after and was followed by Golden Box, ’80s NYC-style disco Studio 54 and The Limelight, but more intimate.
Following up the success of Nighthawk, he opened Nighthawk: AM, a fast casual spin off for daytime hours. Then there was Paperboy, his take on a classic pizza joint with a punk twist, and also Tinfoil: Liquor & Grocery, a hybrid liquor store with a hidden sandwich shop in the back. Finally, Easy’s, his version of a modern American diner, adapted for an upscale mall environment in a high-traffic section of the revamped Beverly Center.
With its slate of hot spots, his J. Fall Group was becoming a top contender in L.A. hospitality, deserving note alongside the likes H.Wood group and SBE. But the impresario quietly sold the company and his slate of restaurants to a group called K2 Restaurants this past April, he says, to focus on his energies into Mixtape, and to see K2’s “talent and infrastructure take [those] concepts to their maximum potential.” He says the offer to sell came at the perfect time.
“As someone who has a split creative and business mind, I always have to make sure I’m balancing my emotional connections to the concepts I create with what will make the business most successful,“ he says. “That’s probably one of the biggest challenges. I’ve changed the way I build things and have somewhat gone back to a few years ago when I opened my first bar, I wasn’t trying to build a concept that could be replicated all over the world. I had a lot less resources which makes you more creative. I do enjoy both worlds but right now it’s been a nice shift with Mixtape, to be able to keep my focus within four walls.”
While all his past restaurants were Americana-inspired, what he’s most excited about at Mixtape is the cultural meld of flavors, inspirations and cuisines, all of which represent his Caribbean, Jewish and French heritage. Mixtape “acts as a type of autobiography and is a more personal project,” says the young restaurateur, who is the only food personality on the talent roster at Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s management company.
“My ultimate goal is to continue to think differently when creating experiences around food, “ he explains. “We get glimpses of music, art and fashion being mixed into food but still don’t often see a mesh where it doesn’t feel like a pop-up or a one-time thing. You see people line up for hours to try a $10 donut like they do for a new release at Supreme, so there’s already a lot of overlap on how society reacts to hype but as far as the experience, it’s still a struggle as a restaurateur to throw out something completely left field.”
“I want to create different worlds and change up the narrative around how we eat so that people have a new story to tell,” Fall continues. “I think that becomes interesting when mixing in different creative mediums. It’s about the emotional connection you ignite within people when they make contact with what you’re putting in front of them. And being able to do that while mixing different mediums together is when it really comes alive.”
Jeremy Fall’s Mixtape, 7450 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax, (323) 424-7044, eatmixtape.com.