Diary of a Restaurant: reservoir Launch
Part 1: Concept and Location
I am a food nerd. I get excited by heirloom tomatoes, brussels sprouts and fresh peas (and pea tendrils!) at the farmers’ market. I am known to measure my income by the number of work hours it takes to earn enough to pay for my current favorite dish. Past jobs yielded the following dishes:
3 Hours @ Mall Clothing Store = 1 Ty Cobb Salad
1 Hour @ Production Company = 3 orders of Jelly Donuts with Crčme Anglais
I have waited [not so] patiently on hold, in crowded foyers and cramped bars (oh yeah, and I’ve even pretended to be Courtney Thorne Smith), just to get a 5 o’clock seating at a new restaurant. So, when I caught wind that two of my favorite rising-star chefs were planning to open a restaurant in my neighborhood, Silver Lake, I became obsessed.
I starting driving by the site – the former home of long-time Silver Lake favorite Netty’s, at Silver Lake Blvd and Effie – at every possible opportunity, hoping to see signs of life. I scoured Chowhound and Yelp and EaterLA for something tangible. Finally, a few months ago, I spied the chefs from across the room at a Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce meeting - my heart skipped a beat. This is the team that will bring all things delicious to the Eastside.
I made this embarrassing confession to Gloria Felix and Elizabeth Belkind last month when we met up to discuss the progress on their new endeavor, reservoir. Thankfully, they understood my pre-occupation with quality, seasonal menus and first-rate service finally heading east. For years they have been schlepping from their Eastside homes to work at Westside gigs, including some of LA Lunchbox’s favorite restaurants like Lucques, AOC, JAR, Campanile and Grace. They, too, felt the need for a restaurant on this side of town that could compete on the level of their Miracle Mile peers. And frankly, they felt the market West of La Brea was far too saturated.
Felix and Belkind worked together at Grace, but didn’t originally plan on opening a restaurant together. In fact, Belkind was in the midst of preparations to open a Los Feliz eatery when she heard Netty’s was for sale. She saw Felix at a farmers’ market and passed the info along, as she knew Felix was also on the prowl for an Eastside location of her own. By the time Felix connected with Netty of Netty’s in the Spring of 2006, there were already multiple offers for the business; Sara Levine, Joanna Minneci and Tender Greens, among others, all wanted the chance to reinvent the visible Silver Lake corner.
But Netty and Felix connected – on food values and the importance of staying true to Silver Lake traditions – and Felix was given the opportunity to create space to keep Silver Lakers in their neighborhood. She began work on her concept for Restaurant Felix immediately. At Netty’s suggestion, Felix got to know the loyal customers at Netty’s and Felix served Sunday brunch through the Summer and Fall. Out of Netty’s kitchen, she cooked up Eggs Three Ways for enthusiastic regulars. Her Cheddar and Chive BLTA (served on a waffle) sent ripples of ecstasy through the blogosphere.
As luck would have it Belkind’s deal in Los Feliz fell through just as Felix was beginning to understand the importance of offering three squares meals a day; wondering how in the world she could manage this schedule 6-days a week and still find time to spend with her partner and 3-year old son, Jaime. In late Fall, Belkind and Felix formally joined forces and Restaurant Felix serendipitously gave way to reservoir. In January, they closed escrow.
Diary of a Restaurant Opening continues in the coming weeks with the inside scoop on reservoir’s design and construction, staffing and sourcing and (our favorite!) menu creation. As for the opening night reservations, I’ll be camping out on the sidewalk if necessary - because this time it’s personal.