Mike Taix is the owner of Taix French Restaurant
I feel the need to share the facts as they relate to the proposed redevelopment of the Taix restaurant site. I understand this an emotional issue for some, but not more than it is for to me, as I grew up in the restaurant and have worked there for multiple decades. Over the course of several years, I turned the restaurant from a position of losing money in the mid 1980s through an evolution that slowly returned the menu and décor to reflect its original Country French roots resulting finally in what was a profitable enterprise, ensuring it’s survival through the ‘90s and early 2000s. In this changing business climate, it has continued to require shifting the platform so it can continue to serve shifting tastes in Los Angeles, and especially Echo Park. It is fortunate that we took the initiative to explore how to best redevelop our site and lay the foundation for a new and improved TAIX; had we not taken these steps, the restaurant would very likely be closed today.
To help explain this evolution, I would like to share a brief history. Taix French Restaurant was founded in 1927 serving Country French cuisine family-style at long tables downtown on Commercial Street. There were a few booths available for an extra 25 cents. The federal government seized the site through eminent domain despite the family’s resistance. Knowing this ominous outcome was to befall the restaurant, my grandfather made plans for a “new” Taix on the eastern portion of the present location at 1925 Sunset Boulevard in 1962. The two restaurants coexisted between 1962 and 1964, when the downtown location was torn down and subsequently left fallow for a number of years.
Les Freres Taix (named for my father and uncles) was opened in 1962 under a different concept, not family style, instead booth and tablecloth service. In 1969, a major renovation included the addition of banquet rooms, a wine shop, the porte cochere, parking lot, a new bar and the cocktail lounge. The 1970s brought a more continental menu and some neighborhood blight. In the 1980s, continental cuisine began to lose favor, and the business had slowed. We then embarked on an effort to slowly return to our roots through menu change and a room-by-room remodeling to impart an older look to reflect “Country French Cuisine since 1927”. This process continued into the 2000s, adding many older-looking features such as tin ceilings, patinated mirrored walls, brick wainscoting, light fixtures, wood paneling, paint color inside and out, and more. We also simplified the name back to Taix French Restaurant. The establishment has been ever evolving, and little is left from the 1969 renovation.
Our small business had been fortunate enough to purchase a huge building, and parking lot. However, property taxes, debt service, insurance, excessive and expensive old building maintenance still come due. It became increasingly apparent that we no longer needed a large parking lot, when more and more of our patrons are using alternate transportation, such as Uber and Lyft. Organizations that used to meet weekly or monthly are far and few between, most no longer exist, causing the demand for banquet rooms to steadily decline. Realizing that our business plan was no longer aligning with the unused space that we were continuing to pay for, I started looking for developers who could help modernize our facility and create the right sized, viable Taix.
Over a dozen developers were carefully examined, and we ultimately decided to move forward with Holland Partner Group and sold the property in the summer of 2019. HPG has a history of building quality and thoughtful developments throughout Los Angeles and Southern California. Their vision of what this corner of Echo Park could be, with placemaking and the additional energy housing provides, were aligned with the ideas we had for our business.
The last few months have further reinforced the long term need to adjust our business plans. This transaction for redevelopment has kept us open through the “Safer at Home” directives. The structure of this transaction essentially saved us. Our sales have significantly dropped, and the restaurant costs are not nearly being covered. I shudder to think what would have happened if we still had property taxes and a mortgage; we would not have survived Covid19. While there are many people writing about this redevelopment who are saying they are avid supporters of our restaurant, we are not seeing this support in day-to-day business. We have been there for the community over the years and ask you to understand that we continue to be committed to bringing French cuisine to Echo Park, but we ask you to be realistic that we were destined to shut down had we not decided to sell and redevelop. Taix will not be able to remain open in the old building for many of the reasons cited above. What we hope for is that the community support our desire to remain a constant in your neighborhood and help support this redevelopment. This will be the only way Taix can exist.
Our family’s small business has been a part of the Echo Park community for decades, and I appreciate your support as we modernize our facilities and adjust our business plan to reflect our needs and customers’ dining habits. I am excited to imagine a place that transforms a mainly unused facility into a central gathering point for the community, creating a space for my restaurant that more closely aligns with our needs, and provides desperately needed housing as a bonus. My family and I are so grateful for your support as we work through the redevelopment process, and we look forward to sharing our plans and hearing our community’s thoughts in the weeks and months ahead. We additionally ask that this might be good time to remind our neighbors, friends and patrons that we remain open for dinner take-out and delivery during these tough times. We certainly appreciate your business.