In 1927, Marius Taix Jr. — son of French immigrant and hotel magnate Marius Taix Sr. — opened the first iteration of Taix Restaurant in his father’s downtown L.A. hotel. Marius served 50-cent roast chicken dinners with table d’hôte, or communal, seating. (For the discreet and well-heeled diner, private booths were available for an additional 25 cents.)
In 1962, Marius Jr.’s sons and son-in-law opened a second iteration at Taix’s current location, under the name Les Freres Taix, meaning “the brothers Taix.” The original restaurant succumbed to an eminent domain claim a few years later, leaving Les Freres as the only Taix left standing. Soon after, the freres reclaimed the restaurant’s original name (apparently, “Les Freres” confused customers, who couldn’t find the restaurant under T in the phone book). Taix Restaurant became a beloved fixture of Echo Park, remaining so for decades even as the neighborhood has gentrified around it.
But not once in these nearly 90 years of history has there been consensus on how to pronounce this restaurant’s name.
“We have heard everything, from taxi to tays,” says Michael Taix, current owner and fourth generation of the Taix family in L.A. “Tays is probably the most common, with tay-ks and tex.”
I pronounce it tay-ks — because if I use any other pronunciation, no one understands what restaurant I’m referring to. Most patrons, however, heatedly debate the two other common pronunciations, tex and tays. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people approach us at the desk and tell me that the loser was going to pay for dinner,” Taix says. “I have either ruined their night or saved their night by pronouncing it tex.”
Tex is the pronunciation the Taix family has stood by since Marius Sr. According to Michael Taix, it’s the correct pronunciation when referring to the restaurant and the name of the family that has owned it for decades. Tay-ks, Taix kindly informs me, is not real French.
The confusion comes from a misunderstanding of a French grammatical rule that an “x” at the end of a word is silent. This rule actually applies only to common names and words, such as the word for peace, “paix,” which is pronounced pay. When a proper name ends in “x,” a French speaker enunciates that final consonant. Taix’s French cousins pronounce their name with the “x,” and when French tourists find their way to Taix Restaurant they know to call it tex.
“The most adamant folks that insist that it’s tays are the ones that know some French. Like the old story, a little bit of knowledge is dangerous,” Taix says. “I’ll get in arguments with people about my last name!”
Early menus provided a pronunciation guide; nearly very review of the restaurant does so as well, from Rachel Kushner’s mention of Taix in the Los Angeles issue of Lucky Peach, back to L.A. Weekly’s 1999 restaurant review.
Michael Taix doesn’t sweat the widespread mispronunciation of his restaurant’s name. “The controversy is a great thing,” he says. “It keeps you top of mind. It’s a subject of conversation.”
However, he does throw a bit of friendly shade the way of some nearby family members, for keeping the confusion alive. “I have some cousins who live in La Cañada, and one of them has a workout studio on Foothill called Taix Workout Studio,” Taix says, pronouncing it tay-ks. “That branch of the family doesn’t speak French.”