The race to reopen an Echo Park restaurant

When the frosted glass door to Restaurant 15 was locked shut last Saturday night, the clock started ticking for Charles Kelly. He does not have a minute to lose. The new owner of the Echo Park Avenue bistro and bar has imposed on himself and his partner an ambitious, or some would say impossible, task of remodeling the interior, redoing the menu, installing some new equipment and retraining the staff in less than a week. His goal: reopen the place under new ownership with a limited menu and wine list this Friday, October 31, at 5 p.m.

Late Monday afternoon, with less than 96 hours before the reopening, Kelly standing on the left) and partner Bill Didonna stood in the middle of the restaurant dining room surrounded by stacks of furniture covered in plastic and the scent of primer paint and plaster in the air. They had initially planned to take more time to transform the Echo Park space into the Allston Yacht Club, kind of a cross between a wine bar and a “small-plate” bistro. But the sale of the restaurant took place sooner than expected, leaving Kelly and Didonna with much less time to get ready. In fact, they will open with the name of the old 15 restaurant still in place.

“We wanted to have more of a relaxed transition,’’ said Kelly, a former film technician who lives in Silver Lake. “But that’s not going to happen.”

So, the race is on. All they have to do is finish painting, finalize the menu, train the staff, find their food vendors and figure out who to call to pick up the trash in time to reopen by Halloween. Talk about scary.

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