West Hollywood’s one-time celebrity haunt, the Formosa Cafe, has finished undergoing a thorough renovation and is open to the public again after more than two years.
The bar’s new operator, the 1933 Group, is known for its vintage-inspired bars: North Hollywood’s Idle Hour, Silver Lake’s Thirsty Crow, and Highland Park’s Highland Park Bowl. The Group’s lead designer, Bobby Green, tells the Hollywood Reporter that the goal of the $2.4 million revamp was “to make it look almost exactly the same” as it did in its Hollywood heyday.
The new decor harkens back to a particular period in the history of the Formosa, 1945. That’s the time when, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, Hong Kong-born chef Lem Quon ran the kitchen and the whole cafe got a makeover in a “Cantonese theme.” (Quon took over the whole business in 1976.)
The Formosa now contains glittery terrazzo tiles like the ones on the Walk of Fame, pieces from the scenic department at Warner Bros. and a fully restored Pacific Electric Red Car trolley, the oldest part of the entire building. (The trolley car is estimated to date to sometime between 1902 and 1906.)