After two closures, what’s next for this Highland Park restaurant space?

Recess switches to Tavern 51 | Katrina Alexy

Recess switches to Tavern 51 | Katrina Alexy

HIGHLAND PARK —  The space is beautiful – a restored brick storefront with a  bow-truss ceiling that soars overhead and a patio in the back. The location is hard to beat — right in the heart of gentrifying York Boulevard.  So, why have two restaurants closed in the same spot in less than 18 months?

This week 51 Tavern, which promoted itself as a “cross between a neighborhood tavern and a small town restaurant” announced on Facebook that it had closed only a few months after having opened last fall in the 5000 block of York.

“Thanks for the memories,” said a sign on the locked  restaurant entrance and a message posted on its Facebook page on June 5.  “We thank you for your support and love of Chef Sevan’s creations and hope we’ll break bread together one day soon.”

Chef Sevan is apparently a reference to Sevan Abdessian, who opened Recess Eatery in the same location in January of last year. The restaurant with a Mediterranean-inspired closed only a few months later  and morphed into 51 Tavern in November.

After operating a restaurant in Glendale, Abdessian turned his attention to opening a new place on York. He faced numerous delays to obtain the necessary permits and transform a  former, rundown pet store in one of York’s most glamorous  restaurants. “Recess Eatery is Highland Park’s stunning new pub for the masses,” Eater L.A. declared when the restaurant opened its doors.

The Eastsider  has contacted 51 Tavern for more information about why it closed and what may replace it.

Maybe the third restaurant will be the charm?

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  1. Simple, too expensive.

  2. simple… both places were very “Glendale”… which York Blvd. is not.

  3. Lovely space. Great location. If they served decent portions of delicious food at a price point people don’t cringe at, it’d be a colossal hit.

  4. The space was nice, but the service was awful.

  5. The space is gorgeous, but we all would love to see a FOUR type cafe or a healthy, Calif. cuisine cafe with good service. Maximilianos excels at service and warmth, but there’s only so much pasta/pizza we can eat here in highland Park! There’s no great healthy food. I would love if Amara moved in this space!

  6. I’m sorry, but York is a young and vibrant street and this space feels old and moribund. The steampunk style has had its day and while it might look new and fresh to my out of state father it isn’t going to impress those who actually eat and shop on York Blvd.. If the owners had hired a more sophisticated architect instead of I assume designing the space themselves they might very well still be in business……..

    • I disagree. The space was fine enough, even if it wasn’t the edgiest, hippest look.
      I do agree with those who said the service was lacking and the menu should be more neighborhood friendly. The change from Recess to 51 Tavern was a step in the right direction, but not far enough.
      Finally, the only way I knew they rebranded to 51 was by walking past one day.
      More variety, add some more healthy foods, like salads, maybe, and less trendy food.

    • I agree! The style was outdated. It should be a little funkier like Highland Cafe or just cooler. Also, Indian food would do well.

  7. Recess had a ludicrous concept that felt patronizing. Menu items named after elementary school subjects, etc. A grown up restaurant, with healthy fresh food and good wine, would’ve been a hit.

  8. Too expensive. Definitely not “for the masses.”

  9. locale a+
    food, service,prices did not rate
    needs excellent food,a good happy hour, good prices, good wine and drinks and it’ll be a hit.
    Bar could be terrific but was not. Outside areas, front and back great spaces, inside as well. But way out of step with the neighborhood. Needs the Maximiliano vibe. comfy, affordable, easy for last minute plans, fun place to just grab a bit at bar, g\good food, good prices

  10. What a sorry sequence of events for this space. It had so much potential. Who’d have thought that the old ‘Verdugo Pet Shop’ could be so transformed? I used to buy chicken feed in the same space where I enjoyed craft cocktails until recently. These entrepreneurs took a giant gamble and I’m sorry to see the degree to which they miscalculated. I really hope something fresh and innovative succeeds there.

  11. I tried it out a few times but service was so awful. It’s not surprising it’s closed now.

  12. It is true the service was indifferent to say the best. My favorite spot on York Blvd. for the absolutely warmest and friendliest service is U-Pick Cafe. Their Persian/Middle Eastern food is delicious and inexpensive AND they are still in business.

  13. building felt cold and impersonal, food was incredibly average, service was terrible. Did not fit into the neighborhood at all. Tear the whole thing down and start over.

  14. Hermosillo, Block Party, Sonny’s, Johnny’s and the York each have their crowd and do well because they offer value, have friendly staff and don’t over reach. Recess/Tavern 51 was like a perfect storm of things not to do when you open a restaurant. It felt like it was conceived and run by out-of-towners. And it wouldn’t matter if that was actually the case, but it felt that way and that’s what matters. Even worse, the mediocre food was way overpriced.

    Not long after it switched to 51, I walked in one late weekend afternoon to look at the bar menu. There was one customer at the bar and two bartenders behind the bar talking to each other. The bartenders turned to look at me and then turned back to their conversation. No smile, no hello, nothing. I left.

  15. I was curious so I looked the place up on Yelp. Too many negative reviews so the total of stars was 2.5
    I used to go to places (all kinds) on York but with the bike-friendly set up parking makes it a no-go area for me.
    And people still ride on the sidewalks.
    I’m not hating on the bike lanes or riders just saying it could be a deterrent for some people. My knees don’t allow me
    to walk far so my choices have to include easy parking.

    I think there may continue to be turn-overs in the eating establishments. People try something, like it and then find someplace else they like more.

  16. I have one word for what would be a smash success in that space. Wurstkuche.

  17. really bad service.

  18. I don’t think you people (those that support new comers) understand that these “new” hipster places are having a negative effect on families. Those families and residents that have been here for years, during the bad and good times when things were diverse, the affordable times for those that are new. I’m open to change and to improving a community. But if improving a community means forcing our the “community” to make room for the middle-class hipster lifestyle then that seems to me like gentrification. This community (highland park, Glassell park, cypress park, El Cereno) belong to middle class people. But apparently middle class has different standards to these hipsters in a way that middle class has changed in the income needed to be a “middle class” resident. I’ve been part of this community for over 20 years and for you hipsters, NEW residents that discriminate against those that do not dress, talk and act like you is sad. All these changes has forced people to move into to homes far from everything and everyone. A civil battle is among us if more white/hipsters keep trying to change our roots. I truly miss my neighborhood and those that helped it grow. When our community was full of joy and diversity. I’m my opinion York Blvd has gone to shit trying to make everything dam hipster. I’ve seen great businesses close do to evictions and homes lost do to foreclosures. How would you like if I were to step into your home and force you out of your room and decorated your house to MY liking? Making you sleep in the back yard’s dog house.

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