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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

After 50 years on the job, Echo Park restaurant workers still ready to serve

(L to R) Bernard Inchauspe, Fernando Gomez and Jose Fragoso. Photo by Aurelio Jose Barrera

It has been 50 years since the Taix family, which operated a  French restaurant in downtown Los Angeles,  opened a new location in Echo Park.  Since then, the Sunset Boulevard restaurant has expanded, menu items have come and gone and the dimly-lighted bar has become the late-night domain of a music-loving crowd.  But all during those years and changes, three employees –  banquet room waiter Jose Fragoso, bartender Fernando Gomez and dining room waiter Bernard Inchauspe –  have remained familiar faces to generations of Taix customers. Next week, Taix French restaurant will honor their 50 years of service and tradition with a celebration – “not a retirement party.”

Why are these three men in their 70s still on their feet taking orders for roasted chicken and martinis when they could be relaxing at home? Click on the link below to find out.

Jose Fragoso (left) confers with owner Michael Taix. Photo by Aurelio Jose Barrera

Jose Fragoso, banquet waiter
Jose Fragoso, a native of El Presidio, Mexico joined his brother to work at Taix as a prep cook. After deciding the kitchen work was not for him, Fragoso worked as a bus boy and eventually a waiter, first in the dining room and later the restaurant’s banquet rooms.  While the dining room customers may required more individual attention,  working the Taix banquet rooms that can seat more has its own challenges.  On busy days, the 72-year-old Fragoso  and the rest of the banquet staff must attend to multiple banquets at the same time and serve more 200 meals to groups of business people on a tight schedule. “They have to leave quickly,” said Fragoso of the business people attending mid-week banquets.  Things are more relaxed on weekends for family celebrations and parties, he said.

Fragoso, now in semi-retirement, works only one or two days a weeks.  “I am enjoying myself when I am working.”

Fernando Gomez at the bar. Photo by Aurelio Jose Barrera

Fernando Gomez, bartender
A former cabinet maker and soccer player, Fernando Gomez was working in a restaurant in Vernon when he heard that Taix was opening a new place in Echo Park. He landed a job as a bus boy before quickly becoming a waiter, a job he held for a decade. One day Gomez asked to work the bar.  “It was very interesting  and I liked talking to the customers. ”

Those were the days when there was  no TV in the bar and Gomez, who was born and raised in Argentina, kept busy making Brandy Alexanders, Grasshoppers, Old Fashioneds and Gin Fizzes.  “You won’t see that today,” said Gomez, who serves up many a Martini to a younger clientele.   Gomez, who is 79, does enjoy chatting with the customers but has learned a simple but effective line when he needs to attend to another drink order: “Excuse me for one moment –  I will be back in a minute.”

Bernard Inchauspe works the dining room. Photo by Jose Aurelio Barrera

Bernard Inchauspe, dining room waiter
Having worked as a waiter in his native France and in the U.S.,  Bernard Inchauspe says the life of an American waiter is much easier.  “The French are a little more demanding” and waiters have to bus their own table,  Inchauspe said. “The American people are easier to make them happy.”   How does Inchauspe, who turned 77 earlier this month,  make his Taix customers happy?   Inchauspe said the most important part of his job is to be constantly checking on the patrons from the beginning to the end of their meal.

Fulling the demands of customers and working a split shift can be challenging but Inchauspe said he does not have to deal with a bossy maitre d’ and enjoys the relatively relaxed style of the restaurant. Inchauspe loves to work but a decade ago cut back his schedule – to five days a week.

He tells aspiring waiters: “You are not going to be a millionaire, but you will make a good living.”



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23 comments

  1. I’ve lived in Echo Park for a few years and I feel terrible for only getting drinks and not eating here yet. After reading this, I will certainly make it out relatively soon.

  2. My favorite place. I go there on as many occasions as possible. I love Bernard and Fernando. Thanks for the write up. This is very special.

  3. Great article! More like this!

  4. We are lucky to have Taix in our neighborhood! The French farm house style cuisine is exceptional (try the duck)!!!

    If you haven’t eaten here, you are missing out on one of the greats of LA.

  5. I’ve been wanting to check this place out ever since I moved to the neighborhood. This article makes me want to go even more now!

  6. Bernard has been our family waiter for generations. He’s such a special person. Love you Bernard and I’m so happy you are being celebrated. You have certainly earned. it. Just wish I could be there in person.

  7. OPINIONATED OLD LADY SEZ

    Started going to Taix when they were still on Ord Street. Was delighted when the new Taix opened in my neighborhood. I have introduced a couple of generations to the delicious food and the delightful people who work there from Michael, Jill, and the trio being celebrated for their long service, to all the others. Friends still ask when they come to L.A., “can we make time to go to Taix?” Better believe it!

  8. The most amazing French Onion Soup I have ever had. The bar is so great to catch a football game in, the large bucket seats and the dark lighting are too inviting.

    Go often so you can become friends with the characters that own and operate Taix. I am absolutely giddy every time Antonio comes to chat at my table, her thick Italian accent is beautiful. You feel so at home and almost old world in Taix.

    Worth raveling to if you don’t live nearby and worth going to at least monthly if you do.

  9. Went there for the first time for Christmas Eve dinner a couple years ago. Loved it. Love this story.

  10. Articles like these push me more to move to the Eastside. Can’t wait to go to Taix and meet the wonderful staff!

  11. This is a wonderful place with incredibly personable staff and delicious eats! I’m going there tonight to celebrate my birthday.

  12. 50 years at one job. That’s something that you don’t see anymore. From a son to his father. . Well done! Thanks for working as hard as you have all those years and for providing for your family. We are all blessed and grateful. Looking forward to celebrating you on the 29th!

  13. Wow, wouldnt adding a “French” Take Out to The Venerable ” Resturant ” and the Community be a Blast !

  14. I have been going to Taix since I was a kid. and my husband and I have been going there for 14 years and love to sit with Bernard! Best deal in town for a three course meal. Love the lentil soup! Their famous chicken dinner is the best. My mom remembers when Taix served family style chicken dinners for $0.75.

  15. Can’t recommend the restaurant highly enough… just a wonderful Eastside institution. And Bernard, in particular, charms everyone with his courtly manners and pleasant disposition. Cheers on a life well-lived!

  16. Great article thanks.

    I always have a drink at Taix and take in the feel of that special place before shows at the Echo etc.

  17. My beloved and I met Bernie a few months ago. Though the food at Taix was great, Bernie really made the experience memorable. Yes, I’m a modern woman, but there’s nothing better than the non-PC, utterly charming “sweetheart’s,” “darlin’,” and “lucky man,” comments only an older gentleman gives.

  18. Born & Raised in East LA

    I have to say I think the service is great and history-filled at TAIX but for anyone who likes food, or knows french food, the food here is one of the WORST I’ve ever had in the area. I hate putting a bad review online, especially because the service is so dear, but I feel a need to give another side in these comments…

    Honestly, the food is that bad.

  19. This was our “Sunday Night Dinner” place growing up in the 60’s-70’s. My sisters and I all felt so grown up getting to go out to dinner with our parents: the waiters pulling out our chairs, the elegant yummy food, getting to order a Shirley Temple ‘mocktail’, the relish tray, the ice cream dessert–great memories! I Love TAIX!!!

  20. Fernando is definitely the best bartender I have ever seen! He has such a great personality… Always knows how to make me smile 🙂 If you haven’t gotten a drink from Fernando yet I suggest you do! I promise he will be the light of your day!!

  21. The food here is well made. These are old style recipes from way back when, done in a straightforward manner. And this is “country style” dining that would be eaten by French agricultural workers, not the urbane sophisticates of Paris or Marseille. (Most of the French or Basque immigrants that came to Los Angeles were country folk, not city dwellers.)

    If you’re looking for innovation in cuisine and the latest dining trends, go elsewhere. But what Taix does, they do very well.

  22. I truly enjoyed the article about the wait-staff at Taix. I was disappointed that our dear waitress in the bar area was not mentioned. I did not write to you sooner because I thought maybe she had retired. I saw her recently and was relieved to know that she is still on the job. She makes our visits so much more enjoyable than they would be without her.
    Toni Becerra has been working there for over the 40 years we have been enjoying Taix, as a great place to meet old friends or to make use of the charming private banquet rooms for holiday parties.
    I hope The L.A. Times has reason to write of Toni soon. I think she may be close to her 50 year anniversary with Taix.

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