It’s no April Fool’s joke, Modern Manor owner Ryan Durkin is reshaping the former Paris Laundry into a multi-use showroom, event space, and bar.
“I’ve always loved that building,” he said. “We’ve always looked at it and gone, ‘man one day somebody is going to do something awesome.”
If you didn’t get a chance during Street Fair to preview what Ryan is doing with the 11k-square-foot treasured Melrose landmark, he plans to soft-open his new vintage furniture gallery by summer.
Originally he hoped to move in April 1st, eight years to the day since he opened for business in Melrose, Durkin is still waiting for a certificate of occupancy from the City.
Paris Laundry was built in 1957 as one of several commercial buildings in the Melrose Mile that represent the space-age themed “Googie” style, with pronounced arches, an inward slanting roof, and a dual layered, bowed rectangle, neon sign. The building is almost inseparable from north-facing photos of the Melrose arch.
Paris closed in 2016, causing preservationists to worry about its future. “The (owners) definitely did not care about saving it,” Durkin said. “I told them I’m going to repurpose the building, that it’s going to be beautiful and amazing. They were like, ‘how much are you paying us?”
That unusual structure, with bright yellow M’s painted over stormy grey metal, invited mid-century admirers to meander to and fro the shops in the Campbell Place retail plaza one block west of 7th Ave.
Over time, their operation evolved into a real-estate staging business, lending mid-century pieces to dozens of higher-end clients in central and east Phoenix.
Though Modern will continue to showcase in about 5k-square-feet of new space, they envision much more than retail in the “new” building.
In addition to furniture, Durkin envisions two bars, one as part of a light-fare cafe and the other more of an upscale destination. “It won’t be a full blown restaurant,” Durkin added. “You can still come in and check out the furniture and all that stuff, just like (you) always have. But you can also grab a coffee, a beer, a cocktail,hang out, maybe have a business meeting, crack your laptop, study or whatever.”
“We’re doing a secret, speakeasy type ‘expensive’ cocktail bar,” Durkin teased vaguely. “It’ll be Mid-century modern, European inspired.”
(visit thismelroselife/facebook to watch an impromptu interview with Way L.A. rep Parker Groves.)
The food and bars will require licensing and permitting, and may even require changes to parking schemes.
Durkin plans to ask the neighborhood for support for any public approvals that may arise. The project is expected to span into the summer, at least.
Durkin and Klusman are more-or-less equal partners in the project. Though he declined to discuss the numbers, Durkin said the full scale of the project is way beyond what he could do alone. “Were doing it right,” he said confidently. “And it ends in the millions.”
Ryan and Kylie live in Arcadia with their three young children. Photos of their mid-century inspired home can be seen in a 2013 A.Z. Central feature.