Back in October, we detailed the concerns of Los Angeles preservationists over the unpermitted destruction of Hollywood’s nearly 100-year-old Pig n’ Whistle restaurant.
At the time, there was still some slight chance of plausible deniability for the building’s new tenant, Jorge “Mr. Tempo” Cueva, despite some of the controversies that followed the expansion of his hospitality empire from L.A. to Ensenada. Maybe he’d realize the errors of his ways, express contrition, and find a way to reverse the damage done.
Two and a half months later and the picture of this restaurateur’s character is becoming more complete. Cueva has released a video essentially mocking anyone who feels offended over his plans to convert the historic restaurant into a cantina called Mr. Tempo.
This week, Cueva posted a video on Instagram showing him ripping the place up by hand. It begins with the words “Remodeling a 100-year-old restaurant,” followed by scenes of the heavily inked entrepreneur finishing his hatchet job, marveling at the original ceiling, and ripping various interiors apart with his own two hands.
Amid this carnage, he drops pointed comments like, “I come to restaurants and I destroy them,” “If I can destroy it, clients can destroy it,” “This building is 100 years old, imagine how it had the ceiling… ,” and “we are like the stomach, everything it touches goes… you can guess.”
At one point, the restaurateur even goes so far as to fart on camera, painting a thousand words about his feelings over a sound effect of passing gas for anyone who sought to preserve this piece of Hollywood history in a city being rapidly changed by transplants.
In a video the next day, in case you hadn’t heard, Cueva reenforces his feelings that he doesn’t give a shit about history. He begins by saying, “This building has exactly 100 years old… I don’t care if it still works or not, it is what we regularly do. We buy a restaurant. I arrive and take everything out.”
Our friends at the preservation-minded tour company Esotouric first brought the video to our attention, noting that Cueva still does not have permits for the project that demolished one of Hollywood Boulevard’s most recognizable facades. A quick glance into the permit applications shows not a single one appears to have been cleared, despite the ongoing devastation to make way for his new nightclub...in the middle of a ravaging pandemic.
Comments on Cueva’s post show even some of his followers shocked over the idea of someone ripping apart a historic restaurant, with one saying, “Next to the Egyptian theater… hope you kept some of its historic interior!” and another stating, “muy triste. Destruyó un edificio histórico de la historia de Hollywood (very sad, he destroyed a building historic to the history of Hollywood.”
Of course, he has his supporters, too. Both in those comments and in ours, with people defending his right to do whatever he wants with the space as its new tenant. This argument conveniently avoids the fact that he has no legal permission to go and destroy the space in the first place. As well as the deeper issue of whether we, as L.A. residents, should have any say in what determines our history and the culture we share with visitors, as well as what we want our streets and city to look like.
Hollywood Boulevard’s very popularity and ability to draw crowds comes down to its connection with the film business that once thrived here. A spirit and story embodied by the likes of The Egyptian, Pig n’ Whistle, The Roosevelt, the Max Factor Building, Frolic Room, and The Pantages. They are literally some of the sole surviving evidence of that history, no matter how many bar flies are collected in its numerous daytime drinking holes and shiny-shirt-magnet nightclubs.
As for what to do about this all, Esotouric has a breakdown on Twitter for anyone concerned with the devastation, starting with filing an online complaint or reporting a code violation with L.A. Building and Safety, and emailing Mitch O’Farrell’s office and City Planning to request they get involved in stopping the illegal destruction at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard.
As for Cueva, he isn’t done with Los Angeles yet. Not by a long shot. In another video, he tells the story of getting his first tattoo of a dolphin, the sun, and the sea at the request of a gringa girlfriend back when he was a commercial diver.
He details how the leg tat made people think he was “gay.” At this point, the video abruptly appears to cut out, before jumping ahead to a later segment in which Cueva shouts out “greetings to all my gay friends,” before going on to say he’s coming for West Hollywood with a destination called “Boy Town.”
We’ll let you know when it comes time to form a human chain around the Troubadour.