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Mooi restaurant to open in Echo Park's Jensen Rec Center

November 2, 2009 |  5:01 pm

A raw, vegan and organic restaurant called Mooi is in the construction phase in the lovely corner space of the Jensen Rec Center at Sunset Boulevard and Logan Street. Fortunately for the swiftly changing neighborhood with its increasingly vital bar and restaurant scene, owner Stephen Hauptführ beat out a bid by a corporate contender to sign the lease.

Hauptführ, who was one of the progenitors of the L.A. rave scene in the late 1980s and also a successful party promoter, began a raw, vegan catering company after hosting a series of dinner parties and realizing that his talents were in demand. As the business grew, he also began selling packaged products to restaurants and health food stores around town, including Elf cafe and Naturewell. It wasn't long before he began contemplating opening up a restaurant. He considered a number of spaces in Echo Park before settling on the current location.

The ground floor and main dining room of Mooi (there is also a mezzanine for private parties) will be designed to resemble an old-time ice cream parlor, with a vintage cooler, an old-fashioned dessert bar with vintage stools and antique ice cream parlor chairs. There will be a coffee bar at the dessert bar as well.

Desserts are one of Hauptführ's specialties, and he'll be offering a variety of cakes and pies alongside his well-loved "snickrz" bars and about 11 flavors of raw-vegan ice cream, including chocolate peanut butter swirl, ginger cinnamon cookie dough, pumpkin pie and caramel fudge ripple.

Construction should be done in a couple of weeks and Hauptführ hopes to be open by the holidays. He plans daytime hours of 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and evening hours of 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. He will also continue catering and selling his packaged foods.

And as far as Mooi goes, Hauptführ wants to make it a place where people from the neighborhood feel comfortable. "I want it to be a hang-out place, where people go to chill," he said.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Stephen Hauptführ's dessert bars include vanilla and chocolate topped with cherries. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times