The Formosa Cafe was a restaurant and bar located at 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard at Formosa Avenue, in West Hollywood, California. The cafe has a long history of movie star and film industry patronage due to its close proximity to movie studios.
The Formosa was founded in 1925 by 1920s prize-fighter Jimmy Bernstein. Bernstein operated his establishment initially in a Red Car trolley located just east of The Lot Studios. In 1945, Lem Quon went into partnership with Bernstein, taking full ownership in 1976 when Berstein died. The restaurant remains in the family with Quom's grandson, Vince Jung, managing it. Several long term employees worked for decades at the Formosa Cafe, including bartender Lindy Bremerton who worked there for almost 50 years, and waitresses Mary Kay Moore (over 40 years) and Catherine (Cass) Marples (over 25 years).
Generations of movie stars such as Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable have eaten meals at The Formosa. Frank Sinatra is reputed to have spent many nights at the Formosa in the 1950s, pining over Ava Gardner.
In the 1991, the restaurant was threatened with demolition when its lease expired as plans evolved for, first, The Lot, the soon-to-be renamed Warner Bros studio lot parking lot, and later what would become The Lot shopping center. Due to concerted citizen and preservationist efforts, the restaurant was preserved in its present location as a landmark. The cuisine served at Formosa is Chinese and celebrity sightings there are still common.
The interior and exterior of the Formosa Cafe can be seen in the movie L.A. Confidential. Other movies shot here include The Majestic starring Jim Carrey and Still Breathing starring Brendan Fraser. In Still Breathing, Fraser's character has recurring dreams of meeting his future wife in "Formosa".
In 2015, the restaurant's iconic 1940's interiors were gutted and a modern interior was installed despite clientele who enjoyed the nostalgic ambience. After negative reactions to the change, much of the original interior was rebuilt.
The Formosa Cafe closed just before Christmas 2016.
The following are notable patrons to the Formosa Cafe:
- Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Dine.
- "Landmark Stands in Changing Neighborhood - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 2003-09-09. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
- Official Website