Meet me at Taix Square

Echo Park -- The owner of Taix French Restaurant has sold the property to a developer for a large housing and commercial project that will include room for a smaller version of the city's oldest French restaurant. 

Holland Partner Group plans to build a six-story complex with 170 units of housing (some of it reserved for low-income residents) and 13,000-square-feet of ground floor retail space on the site of the Sunset Boulevard restaurant, said Mike Taix and an official from the developer. There would be parking for 220 vehicles.

Some of the sprawling restaurant's most visible sections, including its bar and lounge, porte cochere and neon signage, would be preserved and included in the new development.

In addition, an overflow parking lot at Reservoir and Liberty streets, just north of the restaurant, would be developed as a separate housing project, with about 49 units, according to the developer. 

The restaurant is a legendary institution and an anchor to the neighborhood's Sunset Boulevard business district.  The Taix family founded the restaurant in 1927 in Downtown L.A. before relocating the restaurant to its current location in 1962.

On Wednesday, Mike Taix broke the news to his employees and provided more details at a meeting of the Echo Park Improvement Association at the restaurant.

"I wanted them to be the first to know," said Taix, 61, who has been in charge of the restaurant for nearly 30 years. Taix employs the equivalent of 50 full-time workers, some of whom have been on the staff for decades.

Taix said the decision to sell the property and downsize the restaurant came as profits dwindled in the wake of increases to the minimum wage, rising food costs and the cost of maintaining and repairing an aging building that is too big for the business. 

Taix expects that many will be upset by his decision to sell the property and remake the restaurant. But he said he had little choice given the economics he was facing, especially for restaurants like his where experienced, uniformed waiters serve diners who have patronized Taix for decades.

"It's becoming quite difficult," said Taix of the restaurant business. "I can see the trend and trend isn't good"

Taix is now leasing the existing space back from Holland and plans to keep it operating until it temporarily closes for construction and renovation, which could be years away, said the developer.  

The new residential complex, which must still be reviewed and approved by city officials, would be built on part of the existing restaurant, parking lot and an adjacent medical office building.

It's not clear when the project would be completed. 

"We are going to make every attempt to keep it going," Taix said. "It's part of the fabric of our [family's] identity."

The restaurant's dark bar and lounge is a favorite among  labor union officials and city employees, including staffers of Mayor Eric Garcetti. Its banquet rooms host numerous family and business gatherings. 

Taix said the new version of the restaurant -- referred to as "Taix 2.0" by a member of the developer's team -- will ideally reflect the vibe, feel and menu of the old restaurant. 

"French classics will remain on the menu," he said. "It will be reflection of what you would expect from Taix."

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