By Lynne T. Jewell
Buildings along the historic Hillhurst Avenue corridor come in all shapes and sizes, featuring an array of eclectic architectural styles ranging from Art Deco, Spanish to Commercial Vernacular.
But one building in particular stands out and that’s the nearly century-old, beautifully-preserved building at 2128 Hillhurst Avenue, where Little Dom’s restaurant is now located. Long before the popular café took over, this location played a vital role in the Hillhurst business district’s history.
“It represents the heart and soul of the community,” said Nina Mohi, who grew up in Los Feliz and was a long-time LFIA board member. “It’s the character and nature of the street.”
The corner two-story sandstone brick structure was built in 1924 for commercial use. The architectural style is described in the LFIA Historic Property Survey as “commercial vernacular,” which basically means it came from a design pattern book. It’s not clear who owned the building in the early days, but for decades most of the bottom floor was the Los Feliz Launderette & Dry Cleaners. Upstairs were studios.
When Eugene Waring purchased the building in the late 1940s, the laundry operation was in full steam. It boasted cleaning the Dodgers uniforms when the team moved to LA in the late ‘50s.
Waring, a chemical engineer originally from Michigan, launched his real estate business in the smaller unit on the first floor. He converted the upstairs apartments to office space. At one point it was rented out as a ballet/dance studio and more recently housed the Los Feliz Ledger staff.
To differentiate himself from other real estate businesses along the avenue, he erected a large “Waring” neon sign on top of the building. It remained on the roof until the late 1990s when it was donated to the Neon Museum in Glendale.
The promotionally-minded community leader, who served as a member of the LFIA Board of Directors in the ‘50s and ‘60s, sold commercial and residential properties out of what he called the Waring Building, designated by a bronze plaque on the front. That plaque was sadly stolen in 1970 when Waring retired to Palm Springs, according to his daughter Mary Waring.
After Waring left, the laundry kept on running. In the early 1990s, George Abrahamian, a businessman who had also served on the LFIA Board for many years, purchased the property and the now-closed cleaners and created what became a go-to neighborhood fixture, La Belle Époque restaurant and bakery.
Many Los Feliz family celebrations were held at the restaurant with the French chef, remembers Ida Abrahamian, who ran the restaurant with her late husband until 2007.
Since then Little Dom’s has occupied the Abrahamian-owned building. “We wanted to make it seem like this restaurant has been here forever, even though we completely renovated the space,” restaurateur Warner Ebbink states on his website. “It was important to me to make sure this felt like a neighborhood restaurant because every neighborhood needs one.”
Many thanks to Ida Abrahamian, Nina Mohi, Mary Waring and their many wonderful memories of the stately building that stands on the corner of Hillhurst and Avocado Avenues. If you have a passion for Los Feliz history, consider joining LFIA’s History Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) or checkout our website at lfia.org.