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Something for the Summer #8: Asian Americans in Hollywood Film Making at the Formosa Cafe

Gayle Anderson was live in West Hollywood for the grand reopening of the historic Formosa Cafe, which has undergone a $2.4 million, two-year face-lift by 1933 Group.

The 1933 Group, owners of La Cuevita, Bigfoot Lodge, and Idle Hour, spent two-and-a-half years and a reported $2.4 million resurrecting the landmark property. The team brought in master craftsmen to meticulously restore what remained of the original Formosa–which operated from 1945 until 2016–while staying true to the look from the spot’s mid-century heyday. They kept many of the most memorable bits of decor, from the autographed black-and-white photos, to the silk lanterns, to that green neon script along Route 66.

The new menu by chef David Kuo harks back to the last owner, Vince Jung, grandson of Lem Quon. Quon’s Cantonese fare is updated with Chinese-American dishes like General Tso's cauliflower, orange chicken, and beef with broccoli. Handcrafted old fashioned Hollywood cocktails are part of the restored restaurant menu as well.

NEW to the Formosa Café is an area that was an outdoor smoking area. It is now the Yee Mee Loo Bar. Pagoda roofing is a big theme at Formosa and is heavily incorporated over the Yee Mee Loo Bar. The roofing tiles on the pagoda here have been sourced directly from Warner Bros Scenic Department. The Formosa, along with other restaurants such as Yee Mee Loo and the Golden Pagoda, all played a big part in shaping Los Angeles in the 20th century.

Because one of the most prominent décor themes in the Formosa features a collection of black and white studio head shots, the 1933 Group wanted to give the Yee Mee Loo areas of the space a part to play: to tell a storied history of Chinese Americans in Old Hollywood. To do this, the 1933 Group tapped Arthur Dong, an Oscar nominated filmmaker and award-winning author whose work centers on Asia Americans in Hollywood film making.

The 1933 Group and Arthur Dong say there needed to be meaning behind the Yee Mee Loo section of the Formosa, and in meeting with Arthur discovered he’s penning a new book called Hollywood Chinese.

The Formosa in many ways IS Hollywood Chinese, so they decided to really tell a story about the influence of Chinese Americans in early Hollywood. The influence of Chinese Americans in Hollywood has gone unrecognized for decades so part of Arthur’s installation is to showcase the influences of early Hollywood. Arthur compiled lots of stuff from a collection of ephemera and photos, movie posters and head shots, to showcase every Chinese actor from a chronological standpoint from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Additional Asian-American-Hollywood influences play a role in the new Formosa.

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“Something for the Summer!”
Formosa Café
Yee Mee Loo Bar
Asian Americans in Hollywood Filming
7156 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood
(323) 850-9050
theformosacafe.com

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If you have questions, please feel free to call Gayle Anderson at 323-460-5732 or e-mail Gayle at Gayle.Anderson@KTLA.com

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