I got a chance to speak with Tony Yanow, owner of Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank as well as the new restaurant being installed in the old Ramona Theater in Echo Park. The reason for our conversation revolved around concerns brought up by residents involved in the www.echoparklife.org website, which we wrote about last week. Mr. Yanow wanted to address a few of those concerns, including parking, bar hours, and the wood-fired pizza oven.
Mr. Yanow says he has secured well over the 54 spots required for a restaurant that size. While details are still being worked out, he has approximately 80 spots so far. As far as how many people he expects to be in the restaurant at any given time, he would “absolutely love” for all 200 seats in the house to be full at all times, but isn’t convinced the presence of the new restaurant will increase the parking problem (or rather, not much) for the neighborhood than there already is. He has suggested to neighbors they research getting a placard system for their neighborhood (residents surrounding Dodger Stadium are well-versed in that effort).
In addition, he will be installing bike racks outside of the restaurant like he has at his other restaurant, Tony’s Darts Away located in Burbank.
“I have long hours,” Mr. Yanow told me, “but the reason for the long hours isn’t because I want to flood the neighborhood with noise and debree.”
Tony’s Darts, he says, has been open for four months without a single complaint from a single neighbor. Tony and his family live in Los Feliz, and says he loves Echo Park and understands the community. He says the new restaurant in Echo Park is not going to be an upscale place, but a nice, friendly family place that he can bring his own family to. He will be posting a sign (you’ll see one similar to what he’s posting in front of the Short Stop in Echo Park) that will say something along the lines of “be nice to our neighbors” and keep the noise down. It’s important to him that he has a restaurant that is “in keeping with what the neighborhood vibe is.”
Mr. Yanow says his pizza oven is the same oven they use at the California Pizza Kitchen establishments. Everything is up to code, ducted properly, and no different than any other gas appliance, so he doesn’t feel it will be a problem with the neighbors.
Live music and noise
Apparently the old theater was, on occasion, used as a space for some louder bands to play in the past, and neighbors complained because of the noise. There’s just a big, giant hole in the roof, which Mr. Yanow is sealing and actually replacing the entire roof so that noise won’t be directed at the neighbors behind the building, but instead being directed toward the street in the front. The back of the building is 16 feet underground, and a new air conditioning system is being put in, so the building will be better insulated. He says that he does have permits for live music, but no permits to sell tickets pre-sale or charge a cover, and no permit for dancing. In his words, “it’s not a nightclub, it’s a restaurant.”
It seems like the bottom line for Mr. Yanow is that he really does want the new restaurant to help the property values along that block (there are quite a few empty store fronts). “That block is under-served, and could be such a magical block, but it seems so desolate. I think the community will really respond to the food and the alcohol. I can’t stress enough about how excited I am about the menu.”
The menu is going to be very “fresh” and will depend on local farmer’s market finds, so it will be changing based on what’s available. He and and his family are vegan (his seven-year-old daughter is, for the most part), so they plan on having a vegan menu in addition to the non-vegan menu. A lot of the hype revolving Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank is a large drink menu with vegan beers, and he plans on extending a similar bar menu into the Echo Park establishment (he comes from a craft beer background and focuses the menu on local and/or California beer).
I asked him about the restaurant next door, Elf Cafe, and whether or not he thinks they’ll be competing. As a vegan himself, he LOVES Elf Cafe. “Our food is very very different from what they do at Elf, so I hope we’ll be a nice compliment to each other.”
Besides the beer, I have to admit I’m a little excited to have more restaurants in Echo Park focused on the basics of being environmentally friendly (hat tip to Masa, which offers compostable to-go packaging). Apart from the napkins and straws that you have to have in a restaurant, he plans on having zero waste from bar. They’ll reuse everything when they can (menus are printed because they will change often, but they will reuse those), and everything is post-consumer waste. They are operating as a bottle-free bar, where beer is kegged and even wine is custom kegged for them.
Other than that, count on the new restaurant to be a place where you can watch a Dodgers or Lakers game, but sports won’t be on all the time.
Initially, the restaurant was to be called El Camino, but they are still playing around with the name. If you’d like to give in your two cents for what it should be called (perhaps think about something represents Echo Park) visit the Facebook page for Tony’s Darts Away and share your ideas for the restaurant name.
The website Echo Park Life has gotten a lot of criticism lately regarding their efforts, but they did respond yesterday and will hopefully clarify some things with readers (including why your comments may not be showing up on the site), so take a look and maybe you’ll get a chance to see them at the upcoming meeting on Wednesday to discuss issues revolving the new restaurant at the old Ramona Theater. They are nice people, we just all need to be on the same page and understand where everyone is coming from.
The Echo Park Improvement Association Neighborhood Issues committee will be meeting on Wednesday, August 18 at 7:00 pm at Williams Hall, Barlow Hospital, to talk to Mr. Yanow and other residents about what to expect. I’ll be posting the agenda as soon as it’s published. See you there!
Looks like Mr. Yanow and his crew have decided on a name for the new spot, and are calling it Mohawk Brasserie. Click here for the Facebook page.