Sunday, January 17, 2021

Remembering the Original Taix

Dear Readers,

Recently I was fortunate to be introduced to Jan Gabrielson, who visited the original Taix as a child and generously gave me permission to share some vintage photos.

Born in San Francisco, Jan has lived in LA since the tender age of 18 months. Jan grew up in South San Gabriel/Rosemead, currently resides in Cheviot Hills, and is a retired family lawyer and legal consultant who practiced downtown.

Jan started going to Taix in the early 50s as a child and went two or three times. Jan states “I remember going there and knowing I had been there before.” 

This 1961 photo, which Jan took from the City Hall observation deck, shows Taix in the very bottom center.

Jan describes the lost building at 321 Commercial Street as "a shabby old industrial building with more than 1 floor" and remembers sitting with family at a long table (communal seating was the norm, although private booths were available for a little extra). 

Jan's mother, a Home Economics teacher who had taken a college French class, insisted on the incorrect “tay” pronunciation and was unimpressed. Jan notes “she had no language talent whatsoever, but that didn’t stop her” from teaching Spanish at the family's dinner table.

In fact, there was a running battle with Jan's mother over how to pronounce Taix. Jan opines “it’s the family name and that’s how they pronounce it, end of story”. Jan also ran through a list of place names that ignore the X rule. (In French, pronunciation rules don't necessarily apply to names - of people or of places.)

Jan recalls coffee being served at the very end of the meal. The waiter would say “put your spoon in your glass” - to prevent the glass from shattering when the hot coffee was poured in. (Metal is an excellent conductor of heat, so this makes sense. That said, I studied art, not science.)

Jan went on to UCLA, majored in French (despite never having spoken French before!), and spent a year abroad in Bordeaux. By this time, due to UCLA's excellent language program, Jan was already fully fluent in French. 

Jan also worked as a passenger service agent for Air France. At the time, according to Jan, French visitors didn't spend much time in LA. They would visit Disneyland and Marineland, then go to San Francisco. 

This photo showing the 101 Freeway also shows the former Brew 102 brewery. Which was formerly the Maier Brewing Company and the Philadelphia Brewery before that... and the El Aliso vineyard and winery before that.

In the late 1970s or early 1980s, Jan became aware that there was a newer Taix location on Sunset Boulevard and began going there. Undeterred by the higher crime rate in Echo Park, Jan would sometimes go frequently (and sometimes less so), and often met friends with season tickets at the restaurant.

Jan recalls cheese grinders cranking fresh Parmesan into the restaurant's famous tureens of soup and calls the potato leek soup with Parmesan and pepper “one of the great joys of life”.

Jan may have been Sunset Taix’s last dine-in customer, since Mayor Garcetti shut down restaurants during Jan's last visit. (Guests already dining in were permitted to finish their meals.)

Here's hoping there will be many. many more evenings at Taix when the pandemic ends. 

Merci, Jan.


  1. Great article. I share the same experience as Jan--only ate at the old Taix twice, but remember the soup and the oilcloth on the tables.
    BTW I took my first walk in downtown in a decade the other day and walked by the site of the old French Hospital where I was born. No more Joan of Arc. Anybody know where it's been transferred? LucienP

    1. Hi Lucien - Jeanne was donated to Children’s Hospital right after the hospital sold. I tracked down the statue and you can read the whole story under entries tagged “French Hospital”.