Elf Cafe Feels the Pressure From Giant New Neighbor

The run-down Ramona has changed. Will the rest of the neighborhood?
The run-down Ramona has changed. Will the rest of the neighborhood? Photo: Hadley Tomicki

Everyone’s already going crazy for Tony Yanow’s Mohawk Bend, the ambitious restaurant and beer bar coming to the old Ramona Theater in Echo Park this summer. The space still looks to be under construction, so it’s got to be that huge marquee signage (and Yanow’s rep with hop-heads, of course) that’s whipping up a lot of the anticipation. Today, Eastsider L.A. points out that the huge sign has already prompted one noticeable change in the neighborhood.

Elf Cafe, the tiny vegetarian refuge neighboring Mohawk Bend on Sunset, has had nothing but a small discreet door sign for several years, a move consistent with their sustainable, economical approach to eating. Now the cafe has been made to feel somewhat overshadowed by Mohawk’s significant signage sucking up all the attention.

Elf owner and chef Scott Zwiezen tells The Eastsider, “The new sign, as it were, was actually prompted by the arrival of the Mohawk Bend sign, which I feel sort of dominates the immediate vicinity. As we are located directly under their sign, I thought it best to put up something of our own which would hopefully dispel any confusion and ideally create a sense of separate environments.”

Zwiezen sounds somewhat satisfied by the solution, a subtle, handsome rectangle with classic, angular lettering spelling the restaurant’s name. But could the pressure that was hoisted onto Elf’s shoulders by the entrance of a 10,000-square-foot restaurant with over 65 beers on tap perhaps be a larger symbol of the changes taking place in the neighborhood? Will the coming of Yanow’s mega-sized Mohawk Bend force change in the funky little eateries and storefronts which, like Elf, have helped make the neighborhood so popular? We’ll be watching from The Gold Room to find out.

Cooking up a different approach to signage [The Eastsider LA]