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Hip Hollywood Never Gets Old

Note* The Formosa finally got old. It has closed, looking for a new owner.

formosa cafe hollywood vacation destination photoLooking for “Old Hollywood”, that land of magic of bygone days when stars like Clark Gable and Rita Hayworth used to hang out at Ciro’s to the big band music. The world presented in movies like “Hollywoodland”, “The Black Dahlia” and “L.A. Confidential”? Well, why not go where the movie makers go to find the memories. Like a line from the Sondheim song, “I’ve been through good times and bum times, but I’m here” some of the past survives. Now with a brand new coat of paint!

Hollywood movie star hangout formosa photoA somewhat garish red and ebony building at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa Avenue surrounded now by a new shopping mall is the Formosa Café. Originally built as Jack's Steakhouse from an old trolley car across the street from the silent era United Artists movie studio of Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith, the Formosa Cafe opened in its familiar red and ebony Chinese restaurant form in 1939, after the studio had been taken over as the Samuel Goldwyn Studios (later Warner Hollywood and currently just known as "The Lot"), and became instantly popular with movie stars and Hollywood gangsters like Bugsy Siegal. The Formosa has been a bonafide Hollywood star hangout ever since. The dark and intimate interior with Chinese lantern and vinyl booth décor has been used as a filming location for “L.A. Confidential” for the scene where the real Lana Turner is mistaken for the movie star look-a-like played by Kim Basinger. The Formosa Café was an actual hangout for Lana Turner and her boyfriend Johnny Stompanato before he was stabbed by her daughter in one of Hollywood’s most famous scandals. The director, Curtis Hanson, even met the actors in the café to sell them on doing the movie.

formosa bar hollywood photoThe walls of the Formosa are lined with over 250 autographed pictures of movie stars through the decades, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Elvis Presley, Jack Benny, Marilyn Monroe, Humpfrey Bogart. Even today, the Hollywood landmark is a watering hole for Hollywood’s young hipsters and hopefuls who come hang at the two bars (a new section was added a couple of years ago) and sample the neuvo asian cuisine.

7156 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA.
(323) 850-905)


Jones celebrity hangout hollywood photoOIf you’re into bar-hopping, across the corner of Santa Monica and Formosa is Jones, official Jones Café. In a city where hot, hip bars last about 18 months before they grow cold and go under, Jones has been a popular hang-out for the Hollywood showbiz industry for almost 15 years. A former notorious West Hollywood gay bath in the 70's, the space became an immediate hit on the celebrity hungry L.A. bar scene. Though not as hot as the current it spots that rise and fall around Hollywood, it has remained a lasting staple of the young industry crowd, where stars can still be found in its concealing dark interior out on the “down low”.
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