The partners behind Hotel Café want to do for small plates what they did for the city's indie music scene.
Over the last 14 years, Hotel Café has played host to The Lumineers, Bruno Mars and Adele, among others, making it one of the best intimate music venues in the city. But as Maximillian Mamikunian and Marko Shafer planned to expand their Cahuenga Boulevard location, they knew it meant giving up something: their kitchen.
With the menu being pared down at Hotel Café ahead of the renovation, the partners began searching for a new culinary project. They found it in Larchmont, and in mid-December, they soft-opened Midtown Bar & Kitchen in a storefront location on Melrose that previously housed the Mexican restaurant Pueblo Viejo. The space took almost two years to renovate.
“The idea was, there really wasn't a place in the area that had a full bar and great food. That was why we jumped on it,” says Shafer, who lives two blocks away. “It's a wine bar and a whiskey bar with great small plates.”
For the menu, which includes dishes such as sautéed scallops and grilled lamb chops, Mamikunian and Shafer partnered with Filippo Cortivo, who owns nearby Osteria Mamma. (Cortivo, who is also a sommelier, helped pick Midtown's wines – 60 international wines, available by the bottle.)
Mamikunian's girlfriend, fashion videographer Nora Schaffer, designed the interior space, which is centered around a 20-seat Calcutta Gold marble bar.
Until now, the partners have resisted doing publicity for their new venture. “We want to let it grow slowly and organically instead of forcing it,” Shafer says. But with Midtown now getting its sea legs, they're starting to get the word out.
One helpful selling feature for Hotel Café fans: The beloved music venue is only a four-minute drive away.