New L.A. Restaurant Pays Homage to Site of Mary Pickford-Loved Jeweler

Restaurant V DTLA - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of V DTLA

Once home to Brock & Company Jewelry, the decor of the new restaurant V DTLA celebrates the building’s lavish Old Hollywood past.

The Brock & Company Jewelry Store was a prominent seller of baubles and other shiny items in downtown Los Angeles during its heyday. Built in 1922, the four-story Spanish Colonial Revival building with its thin columns and stacked floral motifs on the front facade was as gorgeous as the wares it sold. Sometimes called the “Tiffany’s of the West,” Brock & Co. was known for its high-quality jewelry by designers William Scheer and Oscar Heyman (providing $1 million worth of jewels for Lana Turner’s role in 1959’s Imitation of Life), French clocks by Verger and other international goods. In its prime, the business attracted a starry Hollywood clientele, including regular Mary Pickford.

Elements of the building’s lavish past are now showcased in V DTLA, the new ground-floor restaurant that officially opened earlier this week. Previously Mas Malo (Seven Grand still lives on the second floor), the space was completely redesigned with Brock & Company in mind. The bar is front and center, a massive oval made of brass and emerald-green accents, topped with gleaming white marble. The size, shape and location directly mimics the jewelry counter in the original 1922 store. Mahogany display cases abound, the ornate arched ceilings have been completely restored and the vault has been turned into a private room draped in red velvet.

V co-founders Christian Lagerlöf and Benjamin Calleja, who operate restaurants in Sweden, transformed the sprawling space with contrasting textures: emerald green velvet; shiny petrified-wood tables; shimmery grass and gold accents; and swooping colorful street art-influenced murals. They call it “fast-fine dining,” everyday food served in a super-chic space.

“We wanted to bring back the story of the building,” says lead designer Calleja. “This was the Brock & Company flagship, the biggest jewelry manufacturer in L.A. at the time. They were going to buy out Tiffany's at one point. We just wanted to bring back that era, 1920s Hollywood, Gatsby. It was all so elegant, but still a party.”

The menu is much more contemporary, featuring everything from cauliflower bowls to ceviche, salads and pizza. The latter is made from a 100-year-old sourdough starter that’s so prized, it’s kept in a secret spot in the vault like a jewel. Cocktails bring the past to life as well: One has edible diamonds in it, another made with gin and lime turns emerald green when butterfly pea flour is added. With a little magic, it sparkles like a precious stone upon arriving at the table.

“We learned that a lot of Hollywood stars bought emeralds here, so we made that a centerpiece of the experience,” Calleja says. “Emerald-colored tiles on the walls. The restrooms are emerald, and it picks up on the greenery around the room. Fabrics are emerald, pink and gold, another throwback to jewelry worn in that era.”

The mezzanine is filled with low-slung velvet sofas, plush pillows and greenery. Calleja sees the cozy corners as the best spots for quiet coffee meetings or first-date drinks. He and Lagerlöf created V as a catch-all space for the hordes of people buzzing around the busy Seventh Street corridor. Their company, Livit, is very tech-forward, which they’ve put to good use here. Once a customer orders at the counter, they receive a fob that tracks seating, anywhere in the space.

“We’ll find you,” Calleja explains. “You’re in control of your time. If you want to order more, go to the bar and order more. Sit wherever you want, even change places in the restaurant. We’ll know where you are.”