Boyle Heights attracting new cafes and restaurants despite gentrification backlash [updated]

BOYLE HEIGHTS — Opponents of gentrification have forced art galleries to close and picketed the opening of a new coffee house. But despite these efforts, new restaurants and cafes continue to open or are in the works for this heavily Latino and immigrant neighborhood.  Late last week, for example, La Monarca opened up its second,  sleek panaderia and cafe in the neighborhood.

While Boyle Heights has plenty of bakeries selling Mexican-style bread and pastries, La Monarca offers a more upscale, crossover version — complete with espresso drinks and organic items — of an old school panaderia.  La Monarca, which has bakeries in Santa Monica as well as East L.A., opened its newest outlet at the corner of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Chicago Street, a few blocks east of an exiting La Monarca at First and Boyle streets.

In addition to La Monarca, at least three other Boyle Heights restaurants are currently in the works.

A few blocks east on Cesar Chavez, first time restaurant owners are a few weeks from opening Milpa Grille, which will focus on “Mesoamerican” cuisine.

Over in the 900 block of S. Boyle Avenue,  building and business permits have been applied for an approximately 500-square-foot cafe — the Asher Caffe & Lounge — in a newly renovated building next to the 5 Freeway. Except for a sign out front and the pending permits,  there’s not much info available on the cafe. However, it appears to be related to Asher Fabric Concepts, which has a showroom and offices across the street.

Update: The owners of Asher Caffe & Lounge have filed an application with the city Planning Department seeking permission to serve beer and wine as part of a 22-seat restaurant.

Meanwhile, an even more ambitious restaurant has been proposed for what is now a warehouse in the 200 block of S. Mission Road. It’s near some of the new galleries and art spaces that have opened in the primarily industrial lowlands of Boyle Heights next to the L.A River.

The owners have filed an application with the Planning Department seeking to serve a full line of alcoholic beverages in an approximately 4,700-square-foot  restaurant with a large patio. It’s not known if the landlord has a tenant  lined up for the proposed restaurant.

“The project allows the site to be redeveloped as high-quality restaurant while preserving and rehabilitating the industrial structure to perpetuate the industrial, eclectic, and modern physical identity of the  neighborhood near the Los Angeles River,” said documents filed with the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.

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