WTF Happened To Flor Morena?

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That Silver Lake’s Flor Morena Fine Foods is dead and gone is old news. But it’s demise festers and pesters. Open not much longer than the eight/nine months since it unceremoniously closed, every time I pass by the place (pictured above) at the Rowena/Glendale junction — such as I did yesterday — I surprise myself at how pissed off I am about it. Pissed off not just that it’s gone, but that the eatery in such a great space and a prime location with a nice complement of rare on-premises parking could fail so miserably and completely in so short a time after it’s much anticipated and seemingly welcomed arrival around the end of 2005. At the risk of jumping to conclusions whoever owned the place had to have suffered a catastrophic loss of some sort or had to be a special kind of clueless to screw this up.

Sure there’s ample evidence of developing discord. Plenty of bashings posted around the food blogs during its brief life can still be found: variations on the food/price/service is mediocre/sucks/crappy theme. But there was a fair share of people who liked what the placed offered, too. Personally the one time my wife and ate there we looked forward to coming back, but not long after poof, gone… no note, no notice of IRS or DEA seizure, no papered windows. It’s as if the place was built as a location for a filmshoot and then abandoned for maybe some hopefully more savvy restaurateurs to come in and revive.

But in that meantime all that’s left is its slowly decomposing corpse made all the more eerie when one peers inside and sees a scene that makes me imagine a suitcase neutron bomb had been detonated, destroying anything human within but leaving the place looking as if it could be a cupcake delivery and coffee brew from being open for business again (after the jump).

So can anyone shed some light, theories, conjecture as to what went wrong and what the future may hold? One can only hope its present dark status doesn’t last for anywhere near as long as it had after the previous Auto Bar got went black. The sooner the Flor Morena sign is painted out and a replacement restaurant opens up, the quicker I can let go of all of this hostility.

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22 Replies to “WTF Happened To Flor Morena?”

  1. I too have been wondering about this place, although I would hardly call three spaces “a nice complement of rare on-premises parking.” I’m sure theyc closed because their food was unremarkable, except of course for the high prices.

    Okay, they’re gone, it’s over – let’s get something else in there already.

  2. My theory is the conversion from Vaquero-Auto Bar to Flor Morena killed it. It took forever repurpose this space and even then…it was just OK. I’m sure the contractor is laughing all the way to the bank.

  3. Ruth, I guess I left out “comparatively speaking” when refering to the on-the-lot parking slots. Given how coveted parking is — any parking — when looking at Edendale Grill and Blairs, the two closest (though decidedly more upscale) eateries both of which have zero spaces, Flor Morena’s spots are a nice complement indeed.

  4. I go by at least once a day . . . it’s starting to become the Spanish Kitchen of the current millenium.

  5. I used to live in Silverlake and personally really enjoyed their baked french toast. The service was not great, but I always liked the owner’s daughter’s eyeshadow choice. Also, great name!

  6. One a night a few months back I was doing a Silver Lake walking man (the good doctor for those in the know) tribute, pounding the pavement with the I Pod. I had just passed this location and came across a hirsuite young man having some kind of crazed narcotic induced breakdown. He couldn’t stand up and had to do this erratic crawl/catepillar dance just to get mobile.

    I don’t know. I’m…just pinning this all on him.

  7. It’s karmic retribution from the God of Retro, for them ripping out those authentic “Watusi” paintings on the old walls of whatever had been there before the Auto Bar.

  8. I know a little about the place… I heard that the owner was a somewhat wealthy lady who had some capital on hand to open a “dream” restaurant and decided to go for it. What followed was an expensive re-build to make the place a restaurant.

    Now, anyone who’s ever worked in restaurants knows they are NOT easy places to manage, especially initially. Your first year is pretty much consumed practically living in the place to get it off the ground. Apparently, the owner didn’t see it this way.

    The menu was all over the place, creatively: fried bologna sandwiches AND Filet Mignon? A lack of decent seating made the Filet totally superfluous, there is nothing “fine dining” about the place. It never really attracted the kind of customer base it needed (ie: return customers), and basically withered away as a money pit. The owner lady closed, I assume, after running it financially into the ground. (disclaimer: I never met the lady, and this is what I pieced together from restaurant industry chit-chat, this may be wholly false, or totally true, I can cop to neither)

    If you go look in the windows into the kitchen, you’ll see little has changed. It’s been months since I have, but there was still FOOD in there, onions and such in a bin… ew.

  9. It failed because it sucked, miserably. I went there several times and they just couldn’t get anything right: food, service, atmosphere. Even their lemonade was extremely sugary and overly sweet (drinks are generally easy!). Their staff spent more time hanging out with their friends outside and smoking than helping customers. Their sandwiches were dry and the combinations had little or no thought as to texture and flavor. They were doing a little of Mexican, Italian, California cuisine and a few others in between. I recall being really pissed after the 3rd or 4th time there – why was this crappy space wasting such prime restaurant real estate in Silverlake??

    I’m glad it’s gone but hope that someone who knows a thing or two about running a cafe will step in and change things around.

  10. Thanks for the article, I’ve been wondering about this place, too. It was nice to have another restaurant choice in the neighborhood, but they never did seem very together, so I wasn’t super surprised when they closed. I could never actually get them to cough up a take out menu, even though I tried every time I was there. I would never, ever eat there, the tables and chairs were really uncomfortable and it felt like you were in a cave. They had a pretty kick-ass tri-tip sandwich, though, and the fries were excellent!

  11. OK kids, lemme help set you straight. The owner is a friend of mine, so I’m admittedly biased. She’s a great cook, but she’d never run a restaurant before, and her ambitions got the best of her (and her business partner–she’s not independently wealthy). Anyway, my understanding is that she’s negotiating with several suitors who are interested in the space.

  12. I ran into Reggie at TJs and he said she’s sitting on the lease. He said that a number of people had been trying make a deal, but that nothing is happening. Oscar–if you’re her friend, maybe you can convince her to let go.

  13. I think it was a valient effort there and I always have my “hats off” to someone willing to jump in and take the risk of a new business (though I wish they had saved the Watusi/Bikini windows!) Maybe the Coffee Table can move in there while their building is being torn down and rebuilt as condos….last I heard their current buikding was supposed to start demo in Sept and Coffee Table was still set to go into the new building when done.

  14. Oscar, hopefully your friend won’t get discouraged from trying again. The restaurant biz is a tough cookie to crack… I’ve seen kick-ass cooks founder under the weight of seemingly innocuous details of atmosphere, service and bookkeeping.

    Having said that, I wish the Auto Bar was still there. It was an equal parts surreal, dangerous and time warping space.

  15. I’ll never understand what it is about restaurants that invites so much vitriol. Maybe we were in the minority, but my lady and I liked Flor Moreno and I’m sad to see it didn’t get a chance to find it’s niche. Maybe it’ll get turned into a Starbucks and all of the nouveau-Yuppies that bitched and nitpicked will realize that they need to support local business rather than tearing them down. Glad to finally get some kind of answer, though. When I posted about it, I didn’t get much more than people complaining.

  16. I tried to support them but was constantly met with the most disorganized, grabasstic disappointment and I finally gave up.

    I’d love to see another single entity (vs chain) give that spot a try.

    Ideally it would offer take-out of the simple, healthful foods I’m too lazy to make for myself but really should be eating. Maybe even a drive-thru!

  17. I went to check out the house in the back which was open for rent about 6 months ago. My friend from another bakery who sells some stuff to them wasn’t getting calls back.

    Asking the realtor why the 2-bd house was such a steal (the people who lived there were the children of the Flor Morena owners), apparently the people wanted to move out bc the owners, their parents (or maybe one parent), had passed away.

    I guess they just didn’t want to talk to anyone, they never returned the bakery’s calls. If it’s true, it’s really quite sad, because it is a great location and it looked like it was a great place. I hope the family is well.

  18. I once went there for breakfast (my third attempt at liking the place) and through out the entire meal (we were the only people there), the waitress was on the phone talking loudly to someone about how she didn’t understand why the restaurant wasn’t doing well.

    She literally served us our food in mid conversation.

    I think that speaks for itself.

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