DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — The failure to attract discount and wholesale tenants to the $125 million mixed-use Medallion project is looking more and more like a good thing for Downtown residents and workers.
John Edwards, president of Raw Inspiration Inc. and California Certified Farmers Markets, who has partnered with developer Saeed Farkhondehpour, said six new restaurants are coming to the historic Core project.
The plans for a major renovation of the retail portion of the property at Fourth and Main streets was first reported by Los Angeles Downtown News in April.
Edwards said leases are expected to be signed in about two weeks for restaurants that include Café Uzes, a 2,000-square-foot eatery by Tara Thomas of Traxx at Union Station, and Bigmista’s Barbecue, which has earned a following for the ribs, pulled pork and other items it serves at several farmers markets. The barbecue restaurant will be located in a 700-square-foot space
Edwards said a lease is also in the works for Bread Bar Bakery, an offshoot of the Century City artisanal bread maker, which will move into a 1,400-square-foot space.
Other entities that have signed letters of intent, Edwards said, are The Raw Juicery, Bountiful Bakery and D&D Produce. All currently sell their goods at farmers markets.
“We wanted to make sure we had a critical mass,” Edwards said last night at an event for Dr. J’s Vibrant Café, a vegan restaurant that will open in the complex next week. “You can’t get one person coming in with no one else here.”
Farkhondehpour and Edwards’ plans include opening a permanent farmers market in a 27,000-square-foot space in the complex previously intended for a grocery store. Edwards said he expects the restaurants to debut by January.
Farkhondehpour opened the Medallion three years ago, with 96 apartments above 200 mostly small retail spaces. As a landlord who owns about 800 retail spaces in the Toy District, he planned on marketing that space to similar discount and wholesale businesses.
But after only signing about 20 leases in three years, he decided to invest another $4.5 million on upgrades and re-envisioned the project as a higher end restaurant and shopping spot.
A restaurant called Simply Salad opened at the Medallion in January and construction is underway for a second location of the acclaimed Sushi Zo, which is located on National Boulevard near Culver City and serves traditional Japanese omakase (chef’s selection). It is opening this year in a 1,700-square-foot corner space at the Medallion.
In April Farkhondehpour said he was hoping to open an eight-screen Alamo Drafthouse. No deal has been signed, and Farkhondehpour recently said talks are ongoing.
For Downtowners, one of the most interesting food spots will be Café Uzes. Thomas has made a name for herself over the years with her cuisine at Traxx.
“The concept doesn’t differ much from what I’ve been doing all along,” she said. “It’s fresh market-based cuisine. We’re going to keep doing what I’ve done since I came Downtown.”
©Los Angeles Downtown News.