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» 11 ) and buzzing, with at least 10 im- peccably dressed Harvey Girls tending to the constant flow of servicemen and other travelers. The room had a lunch counter and could fit about 300 people. The menu included shad roe and kidneys; for 85 cents you could get a nice plate of braised calf sweetbreads on toast, with potatoes, vegetables and a salad. The popular
plate of sliced oranges was 15 cents. The expansive art deco Navajo
space was designed by Southwest architect Mary Colter. One of the few female architects of her day, she designed many of the Harvey prop- erties as well as a series of works in Grand Canyon National Park.
As more and more guests flowed through the enormous Harvey House doors, GIs ramping up for WWII needed a place to hang out between duties to just smoke and drink. By 1941, to accommodate all the traffic that was going through the station, the restaurant’s outdoor breezeway was closed off and transformed into the Streamliner bar.
Named after the City of Los Ange- les Streamliner passenger train and also designed by Colter, the bar was built in the streamline moderne de- sign, with curved walls, amber glass, intimate booths and floating ceilings.
A Manhattan was 55 cents, and on special it was 15 cents. Considered a luxury drink, the mint julep cost 65 cents and big spenders could get a shot of 17-year-old bourbon for 80 cents. Domestic beers were 30 cents a glass, Guinness stout 50 cents.
When the station was built, it was designed for 7,000 people, with 33 trains in and 33 trains out.
But by 1967, with the advent of the car, freeways and LAX, rail travel
was dying. There were eight trains in and eight trains out every day. One historian said, “You could have had
a gunfight in the main tunnel and nobody would know because it was empty.” The Harvey House closed, its doors never to reopen. For 50 years, it was used for parties and film shoots, but nobody really knew what to do with the space.
Until Cedd Moses, son of legend- ary L.A. artist Ed Moses, entered the building.
Together with his creative team at
213 Hospitality, Moses has restored the space to its original magnificence and transformed it into the Imperial Western Beer Co. (named after the legendary Southern Pacific train of the 1930s) and brought back the Streamliner.
“The bones of this space were already beautiful — we didn’t want to touch them,” Moses tells L.A. Weekly from the
bar, which has replaced the Fred Harvey lunch counter.
“It was just about restoring those bones and putting new infrastructure into the space and new furniture that still fits the integrity of this space but allows it to function in the 21st century as a beer hall, brew pub and cocktail bar.
can’t operate like that.”
Working with partners Eric Needle-
man of the Spirited Group, who is on the board of the L.A. Conservancy, and for- mer Marine Brian Lenzo of Blue Palms BrewHouse, Moses saw the potential for a brewery. They brought in Devon Randall, one of a handful of female brewers who
only one part of the four-year restoration project.
“When I was growing up, you didn’t go downtown unless you had jury duty or were in finance, and you probably wouldn’t stay for dinner,” Randall tells L.A. Weekly as she pours a Travel Bug Gose sour from the tap. “It’s gotten to be
more and more of a gathering spot for people from all over the city rather than a place to avoid.”
It’s a dream come true for the award-winning brewer , who was born and raised in Santa Monica and also worked alongside Moses in opening Arts District Brewing Company in 2015. She wants to see L.A., which is better known for its cocktails, emerge as a beer town.
“There are young kids coming through the door knowing nothing but craft beer,” Randall says.
“There was someone I was talking to across the bar, who said he had never tried macro beer. He’d never had a Budweiser or a Miller or anything like that. He had only had craft beer because his older brother was into craft beer. That’s how he started learning about beer, and he’s 22. It’s like someone who’s never had McDonald’s because they had better options.”
It was a four-year labor of love for Moses, whose handsome father dated a Harvey Girl before meeting his mom in the old L.A. days. The elder Moses died at the beginning of this year, just missing the grand reopening of his old stomping grounds.
“To me it’s a love letter to our city. We felt responsible to bring this back in a great way and hopefully do the space justice,” Moses says. “My only regret is that my father wasn’t here to see it.”
It took almost two years and a quarter million dollars to restore the cork ceiling alone. Historic preser- vationists were commissioned to come in restore it per historic code. Work on the rest of the space had
to be suspended until that was all done.
“It was a horror story,” interior architect Janel Wright says of the room’s condition when she first stepped foot into the building.
“Union Station has been under- going a renovation itself, and there are unusual materials through the station that we really don’t use anymore. Since this was a restaurant space, unlike the ter- minal where people are walking through, people would sit for hours smoking ciga- rettes and cigars; all the dust and soot had built up on the ceiling over years, plus the smoke from the lunch counter.” ( 15 »
Entrance to the Imperial Western Beer Co., punctuated with original Gladding McBean tile
“When we took the space, it had been sitting empty for 50 years. It had basically been discarded; nobody knew what to do with it. It was historically significant, so you couldn’t change anything in terms of the kitchen space. It didn’t make financial sense for a restaurateur to take the space over because the back of house was over 6,000 square feet and modern kitchens
helped catapult San Diego’s craft beer trend to the rest of the state. “Every beer she brews is a Picasso,” Lenzo says.
Equipment for the brewery is located in the underground tunnel that winds through Union Station. The grain comes in via the rails, is ground and then funneled up to the brewery. Moses said plumbing was a logistical nightmare, but
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