Three servers each celebrating 50 years at storied Los Angeles restaurant Taix
Bartender Fernando Gomez, right, and servers Jose Fragoso and Bernard Inchauspe, left, have worked for decades at the French restaurant Taix in Los Angeles, California's Echo Park neighborhood.
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When he sits down at the bar, there is always a tall vodka soda with a lemon twist waiting. Mr. Gomez, the bartender, has a special ability to remember what customers like. "I don't ask," explains Mr. Gomez, who came here from Argentina at age 23. "I know."
Tastes in alcohol have changed, Mr. Gomez says somewhat wistfully. The days of the two- or three-martini lunch are gone. He serves more Bloody Marys than he ever used to and can't remember the last time someone ordered a Grasshopper.
The evening clientele is different, too. On most nights now, the bar is packed with neighborhood hipsters.
To accommodate the swell of younger people who have moved into Echo Park's brick apartment buildings and bungalows over the past 15 years, the bar features a late-night menu and performances by local musicians. To appease vegetarians, the kitchen prepares its famous soups with vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef.
But the hallways are hung with reminders of the past. There's the black-and-white snapshot of a young Doris Day, being served by a waiter. And a 2010 newspaper obituary for longtime owner Raymond Taix. There are also photographs of the restaurant's original location, which opened in 1927 in a brick building downtown in what was then the French Quarter.
Kelly Fong is old enough to remember the place, which was eventually torn down through eminent domain to make way for a parking structure and a new federal building.
In the 1950s, when he was working as a county engineer nearby, he and his colleagues would often sprint there for a quick lunch. The bill, he says, was never more than $1.25.
The Taix family opened the Echo Park location in 1962 when it learned the downtown restaurant would have to close.
Last month, the restaurant had a special dinner honoring the three men who have worked there for most of their lives.
For once, though, the waiters won't be taking orders. They'll be getting served.
First Published 2012-03-07 23:29:05