Press Release: Los Angeles Conservancy Participating in Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Campaign Launching Today
LOS ANGELES, CA — September 25, 2017 — As a participant of the Partners in Preservation: Main Streets campaign, the Los Angeles Conservancy is encouraging the public to visit VoteYourMainStreet.org/weho to help the organization secure funding to support the rehabilitation of West Hollywood’s beloved Formosa Café.
The Conservancy nominated the iconic site on Santa Monica Boulevard—which is part of Los Angeles’ Main Street, Route 66. The prize—$150,000—would specifically fund the rehabilitation of the Pacific Electric Red Car trolley, the oldest portion of the building.
“Legacy bars and restaurants like the Formosa Café are exceedingly rare today, threatened by development pressure, increasing rents, and ever-changing demographics that make them difficult to survive,” said Conservancy director of advocacy, Adrian Scott Fine. “We’re excited to have this opportunity to bring funding to such an important project, and shed a light on preservation efforts in Los Angeles County.”
Partners in Preservation is a community-based partnership, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places and their role in sustaining local communities.
Partners in Preservation: Main Streets will award $2 million in grant funding from American Express to Main Street districts in need of preservation support across America. The public will determine which sites will receive funding by voting for their favorite main streets through October 31 at VoteYourMainStreet.org, the online voting portal hosted by National Geographic Travel.
About the Formosa Café
In 1925, a former prizefighter from New York City bought and renovated a retired, turn-of-the-century Pacific Electric Red Car trolley as a luncheon counter called The Red Post Cafe.
In 1945, Lem Quon, a Hong Kong-born chef, became a partner in the business and ran the kitchen. The building expanded, was redecorated in a Cantonese theme, and renamed the Formosa Café.
Located on West Hollywood’s main drag of Santa Monica Boulevard/Route 66, its location across the street from a major movie studio made it a popular hangout for Hollywood stars. The walls were lined with 250 photos of stars who dined here.
The Formosa also had a long association with organized crime. Mobsters Mickey Cohen and Bugsy Siegel were regulars, and Cohen used a secret room in the trolley as a thriving bookmaking operation.
Quon took over the operation in 1976. Last operated by Quon's grandson, Vince Jung, the Formosa Café underwent a remodel in 2015 and closed in December 2016.
With its future uncertain, a search began for a new operator. In early June 2017, 1933 Group was selected to take over the operation, with plans announced to reopen in the summer of 2018. Specializing in bars and restaurants that embody L.A.’s rich history, 1933 Group has revitalized a number of historic landmarks, including the Highland Park Bowl and North Hollywood’s Idle Hour Café.
The Café has been featured in iconic films, including L.A. Confidential and Swingers.
As a beloved L.A.-area landmark and legacy business, the Formosa Café is poised to share its cultural and historical traditions with the next generation.
Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Open House Weekend
The Conservancy, in partnership with 1933 Group, will hold an Open House Weekend event for the media and the public on Saturday, October 7 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., highlighting the importance of Main Street preservation efforts in West Hollywood. The Formosa Café is one of twenty-five projects on historic Main Streets across the country participating in the Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Open House Weekend.
As part of the Conservancy’s Open House Weekend, members of the public will be treated to food and giveaways, and the first 200 guests will get exclusive access to the closed café. Special guests and detailed information will be announced on the Conservancy’s Facebook page soon.
Delta Air Lines is the sponsor of the Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Open House Weekend. The Open House Weekend event in West Hollywood is one of many local events taking place nationwide between October 6 and 9.
Why Main Street Matters
According to 2016 data from Main Street America, investments in Main Street districts have a significant impact on local economies – encouraging real estate development as well as the creation of new businesses and jobs. In 2016, $4.65 billion reinvested in Main Street improvement programs resulted in 8,042 building rehabilitations, 5,616 business openings, and 27,462 new jobs.
Furthermore, according to a recent study from Morning Consult of 2,201 Americans commissioned by American Express, 79 percent of Americans say that preserving Main Street is important. Additionally, 79 percent of Americans say that the idea of Main Street is what makes America beautiful. Main Street is also seen as vital in connecting Americans to their local community – 82 percent of Americans say that Main Street is important to their ability to socialize with others in a community. A similar amount, 86 percent, say that Main Street is important to the well-being and the enjoyment of a community.
For more information and to vote daily for the Formosa Café through October 31, visit VoteYourMainStreet.org/weho and share the love via social media using #VoteYourMainStreet.
About the Los Angeles Conservancy
The Los Angeles Conservancy is a membership-based nonprofit organization that works through advocacy and education to recognize, preserve, and revitalize the historic architectural and cultural resources of Los Angeles County. The proposed demolition of the Los Angeles Central Library led to the Conservancy’s founding in 1978. What began as a handful of concerned citizens now has nearly 6,000 member households and hundreds of volunteers, making it the largest local historic preservation group in the U.S. For more information, visit laconservancy.org. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Partners in Preservation
Partners in Preservation is a program in which American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, awards preservation grants to historic places across the country.
Through this partnership, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seek to increase the public's awareness of the importance of historic preservation in the United States and to preserve America's historic and cultural places. The program also hopes to inspire long-term support from local citizens for the historic places at the heart of their communities.
About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com, and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, instagram.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.
Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, Accertify, corporate card, business travel, and corporate responsibility.
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places: www.savingplaces.org.
About Main Street America
Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
About Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines serves more than 180 million customers each year. In 2017, Delta was named to Fortune’s top 50 Most Admired Companies in addition to being named the most admired airline for the sixth time in seven years. Additionally, Delta has ranked No.1 in the Business Travel News Annual Airline survey for an unprecedented six consecutive years. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 315 destinations in 54 countries on six continents.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs more than 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 800 aircraft. The airline is a founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance and participates in the industry’s leading transatlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia as well as a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 15,000 daily flights, with key hubs and markets including Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK and LaGuardia, London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Seoul, and Tokyo-Narita.
Delta has invested billions of dollars in airport facilities, global products and services, and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Additional information is available on the Delta News Hub, as well as delta.com, Twitter @DeltaNewsHub, Google.com/+Delta, and Facebook.com/delta.
About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC, a joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox, combines National Geographic television channels with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic Studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, catalog, licensing and e-commerce businesses.
A portion of the proceeds from National Geographic Partners LLC will be used to fund science, exploration, conservation and education through significant ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society. For more information, visit http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.