Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have been hard at work on the Larchmont Blvd location of their latest venture Cookbook, a market and cafe. The Larchmont Cookbook is scheduled to open at 310 N. Larchmont Blvd, formerly Chan Dara restaurant, sometime in May.
“We have tried to keep as much of the original historic house on Larchmont as we can,”Shook told the Buzz, when he gave us a tour of the unfinished space. “We want to keep the charm but give the building a new purpose.”
Shook and his partner, Vinny Dotolo, both live in Hancock Park and really appreciate the value of our historic neighborhood’s architecture. So, finding a way to make the 1920’s building work for their vision of a market and cafe has been their top priority. Shook told us he’d heard 310 N. Larchmont was one of the oldest houses on the street and served as a dental office at one time. We found a permit online for new construction for a home and garage dated June 1920, that pre-dates most of the commercial construction in Larchmont Village, on Larchmont Blvd between Beverly Blvd and First Street, which followed just a few years later.
There’s lot of challenges in renovating an old building, add the complications of opening a restaurant and a small grocery store, and it’s easy to see why it’s taken a long time for the Jon and Vinny’s team to feel confident about announcing an opening time table.
Plans call for a small neighborhood serving market stocked with produce, flowers, meat and fish, prepared foods, pastry and home goods, patterned after the two other Cookbook locations in Echo Park and Highland Park. The Larchmont location will have a small cafe and a wine shop, another collaboration with Helen’s Wines, a longtime partner of Jon and Vinny’s. The inside space will have a cozy, local market vibe with shelves stocked with interesting items Cookbook Market founders curated over the past decade. In 2020, they sold the company to Jon and Vinny’s, according to EaterLA.com, hoping they would expanding the brand. The Larchmont location is the first expansion and will offer cafe seating so patrons can enjoy coffee and pastry or other items.
“This is really a passion project for us,” explained Shook. “We wanted something like this in the neighborhood for ourselves too. We see this as a place where you can stop in and pick something up to take a friend’s house for dinner or bring home for dinner.”
Right now, the plan is to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. exactly so shoppers can stop in late in the day and grab something for dinner. Shook and Dotolo are excited about serving the community and being part of the evolution of Larchmont Blvd. which is becoming more food focused.
A market has long been on the list of things people want to see on Larchmont, harkening back to the days when the street had several grocers including the elegant Albert T. Balzer Company, the first gourmet grocer in the state. In the 1959, the Balzer family sold to Jurgensen’s Markets which closed in the 1980s. There have been some other shops along the way, but none have really endured. It’s a tough business and Larchmont rents are high. But now, the timing was right for Shook and Dotolo who seem like the perfect stewards to bring back the era of gourmet grocery shopping on Larchmont. This writer is ready and waiting!