The Formosa Cafe, a Chinese-themed bar and restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard where the Some Like It Hot cast and crew dined between takes on the Samuel Goldwyn lot, has been fully restored and is now back in business, as Pat Saperstein reports for Variety.
“The restored Formosa re-opened Friday with an impressive $2.4 million restoration by the 1933 Group, which brought classic spots like North Hollywood’s Idle Hour and the Highland Park Bowl back to life. The complete reconstruction included the historic front room and streetcar as well as a new lounge area and the rooftop patio.
At a pre-opening event, documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong showed off a new display of historic lobby cards and movie stills featuring Chinese and Chinese American actors that he curated for the Formosa.
The Formosa was nearly torn down several times, with countless remodels. The last revamp was one of the most misguided, when the vintage Chinese decor was put into storage and everything was painted grey. The 1933 Group’s Bobby Green got involved soon after that, when Vince Jung, the grandson of longtime owner Lem Quon, ended up losing the bar.
In the past, the Formosa wasn’t known for its Americanized Cantonese food, but that is likely to change with the entirely new menu from chef David Kuo of Mar Vista’s Taiwanese restaurant Little Fatty. ‘We wanted to make it more appetizing by today’s standards, but not stray too far away,’ Green explains, ‘We tried David’s food, it was so good and homey, perfect bar food.’
Green says an archivist and architect were hired to determine that the streetcar was the oldest surviving Red Car, dating to 1902. The false ceiling from the streetcar was removed to reveal colored glass windows along the top. Diners now have a view through the streetcar windows into the new back room, where the elaborately carved bar from beloved Chinatown bar Yee Mee Loo has been brought out of storage to become the centerpiece of the new addition.”