Let’s Talk About Taix

More than just a shadow encroaching; that’s doom.

Taix Restaurant, at 1911 West Sunset, has not had her demo permit pulled.

Yet. But it will happen. As recently reported, Taix is not long for this world.

Curbed readers, being Curbed readers, reacted as Curbed readers generally do.

Curbed LA

Other people, however, reacted differently.


Full disclosure: I dig Taix the most. In fact, when installed as president of Burbank Shrine Club, I angled to have my installation held at Taix rather than in Burbank, because why wouldn’t I?

Dude, seriously, anyone who isn’t instantly charmed by its Norman-Tudor village vernacular has a dead soul. The most common negative epithet hurled by the Curbed Class is “well if preservationists like it so much why don’t they give it business?!” (a whole twelve disingenuous points below “well if you love it so much why don’t you buy it?”) and the answer is we do give it business, you sad, sad, little men.

Look at the fanciful way they merge interior/external space. This image taken from an excellent write-up of Taix in Ellen Bloom’s wonderful blog
Fun fact: see the second-story window in the gable? There’s no actual room up there—it’s not a real window. Yes! Just like Disneyland!
Image courtesy LATimes

Taix, of course, is a Los Angeles institution, and you can read about its history—and see images of its original home at 321 Commercial—here.

Folk get confounded when they try and figure out where the old Taix structure used to be; rightfully so. Commercial Street ran NW from Alameda; I’ve marked the approximate site of Taix where it stood from 1927-1962.

Less has been said of its post-relocation building. 1911 West Sunset began as a restaurant built for Mrs. Ona Spaulding, designed by architect Edgar E. Butler, and built in 1929; it is run by restaurateur Noah Botwin and is famously known as a hangout for the politicos and police bosses. Spaulding hires architect C. F. Plummer to add a cocktail lounge in the summer of 1938, and hires architect Henry Dean to give it an addition in 1947. It remains Botwins for over thirty years before becoming Rafael’s for all of one year, in 1961, before Mr. Taix’s purchase in 1962. There’s a permit in June of that year to stucco and wood trim the front, thus giving the place its French Provincial character. The west half of Taix to the left of the center gable, with the tall tower, is added in the summer of 1968, and is by Nielsen, Moffat & Wolverton.

Its original incarnation looked, presumably, like this:

From the Flickr feed of jericl

…magnificently illuminated by City Hall. One wonders if it did indeed have such impressive rooftop signage.

Here it is after its 1938 expansion to the east:

And how it appeared after the 1947 expansion to the west, doubling its size.

And its Late Moderne-meets-Klondike bones lurk beneath to this day:

Something else: when Taix moved in and put a gable and half timbering where it once said “Sierra Room,” he elected to retain and maintain the 1940s neon sign:

And so, you might want to spend some time at Taix before she goes away. Yes, I am aware that there will be a mini-Taix reconstructed within the new six-story, 170-unit development.

1111 Wilshire, a typical Holland Residential development, of similar size to that proposed for the Taix site. So now you know what to expect.

Pacific Bowling Center/Dancing Waters Club, 1331 S. Pacific Ave.

Image courtesy Sid Penance’s superb San Pedro Art Deco Flickr album

A nice piece of San Pedro Streamline is going away. And with it, a big chunk of Southland history.

1331 South Pacific Avenue began life as the brainchild of Nick Pericich. In 1940 Pericich hired local architect William F. Durr and spent $19,000 to build the ten-room Pacific Bowling Center. The most modern in the Harbor District!

San Pedro News Pilot, 2 November 1940
San Pedro News Pilot, 4 November 1940

William F. Durr’s largest commission was his grand American Legion Hall, now lost, at Tenth and Gaffey, from 1922. His best known extant work is surely the 1928 Brown Brothers stores and offices at 461 West Sixth:

You’re probably familiar with this one because it’s right across the street from the Warner Grand. Dig that arched transom. Check out, too, Durr’s 1923 one-story red brick commercial building at 717-19 South Pacific. Durr also designed many of the buildings in the Port of San Pedro.
As it is today, with its cool neon’d Streamline pylons

PBC remains a bowling alley for nearly thirty years. Then, records from 1969 indicate 1331 has a new owner, one Al Cordiero. He takes out a permit for this:

And, with that, it becomes a night club called the Dancing Waters.

The club one of the most important venues in the South Bay. Here’s an article about 1331 that doesn’t get its early history exactly correct, but does tell us incredible stuff about the bands that played there.

From the Los Angeles Times, June 22 1995. Courtesy Proquest.

The Waters Club, AKA the Dancing Waters, is spoken of in Craig Ibarra’s recent book about Pedro punk. A review notes:

From a recent issue of Random Length News

Besides being a cool South Bay place for norteño and hardcore gigs (e.g., these) Dancing Waters also posed as Jake LaMotta’s Club in the 1980 Scorcese picture Raging Bull:

You owe it to yourself to watch the movie if for no other reason than to go to 1:42:51 and see the animated neon waterfall in action

Read some more interesting tidbits about Cordiero and his Dancing Waters here.

So why are we talking about it today? Because we here at R.I.P. Los Angeles look at permits. Here’s one:

So SVN Vangaurd, they marketed Pacific Bowl and the adjacent properties like so, in it saying hey, check it out, you can take this—

—and turn it into this:

Note in the permit they get a 37% “density bonus.” That’s what’s known as a zoning variance, but they call it a “bonus” because giving something a happy name will make you feel better about the affair. While there is a maximum legislated size they are allowed by law to build, to hell with that. Plus they get to construct the thing fifteen feet taller than they’re supposed to, because they include some subsidized units.

While we’re on the subject, this brick commercial structure two doors down at 1309 South Pacific, built in the fall of 1932, has some cool Deco detailing. It’s part of the Vanguard plan. Pay your final respects when you get the chance.

Sid Penance via Flickr