The Historic Core’s Broadway Spring Arcade, once lined with a hodgepodge of swap meet vendors, is now finally beginning to shape up nicely as more artisanal eateries slowly begin to open inside this historic linear corridor that acts as a pedestrian cut-through between Broadway and Spring Street. Over the last almost three years, it seems like only one or two eateries have opened per a year starting with Crepes Sans Frontieres, but it’s finally starting to turn a corner (i.e., heading toward a critical mass akin to Grand Central Market’s amazing success). Earlier this month, Garçons de Café opened on the side closer to Broadway in the arcade bringing to the Historic Core a novel French retail-wine-bar concept.
Garçons de Café is considered a wine bar but also a retail shop at the same time selling unique French labels ranging from clothing to accessories. Co-owner Sofian Ketfi (who hails from Paris, France and is now a DTLA resident) told me the City of Los Angeles had a hard time at first figuring out how to categorize the business concept (the City eventually decided on “wine bar”). Ketfi opened the store with his business partners, Thomas Choulot and Olivier Gaquieres, because of their passion for wine and their new found love for Los Angeles.
“We just fell in love with the arcade here in DTLA as you can also find these kinds of arcades in Europe like in France and Belgium,” Ketfi said. “And because we love wine, we wanted to create a place for the residents here in downtown to gather around a glass of wine and feel like home.”
Walking into the store, you really feel like you’re transported to a comfortable boutique somewhere in Paris with its vintage furniture and exposed brick walls. At 950 square feet, Garçons de Café feels intimate and inviting — a place that beckons you to lounge for just a bit longer. Ketfi and Choulot, who designed and furnished the space themselves, were inspired by French fashion house Colette using raw materials like wood and marble and assembling the majority of the furniture pieces from vintage shops and flea markets here in LA.
The centerpiece of the shop is no doubt the wall lined with bottles of wine. Even though the wine list will continually change, there will be 30 to 40 different types (all French of course) at any given time with red, white, and sparkling varieties coming in both organic and classic. French cheeses and charcuterie plates are served as a perfect complement to the wine. Garçons de Café will also offer wine flights, which allows patrons to discover new wines with more tasting opportunities. In addition to wine, fresh coffee made from a beautiful Italian Bravo maker (same one used at Urth Caffe) as well as Mariage Freres teas are served.
But don’t just come in for the wine because Garçons de Café is also a bona fide retail store offering some of the most unique French labels in Los Angeles. The store carries clothes for both men and women including brands like Margaux Lonnberg and WAIT. Hard to find accessories include bags from Atelier Auguste, the Mika beanie hat from Beton Cire (a best seller), and stationary from Papier Tigre.
Garçons de Café is open every day (except Monday) from 11 am to 1 am.