Brick & Mortar

A historic building returns to life as a hip NoHo gastropub.

One of NoHo’s most beloved historic buildings is up and running again. The structure on Lankershim Boulevard, between Burbank and Magnolia, is the new home of The Federal.

Erected in 1923, the red brick and terra cotta structure was designed by famed LA architects Parkinson and Parkinson, the firm behind landmarks like City Hall and Union Station.

Originally, the building housed the former Security Trust and Savings Bank. When the bank closed in the early 1970s, the structure underwent a series of diverse reincarnations–serving as a bookstore, theater and filming location. In 2008, the building suffered a fire.

Vacant for a couple of years, the location caught the eye of Morgan Margolis, CEO of Knitting Factory Entertainment, which owns and operates music venues. “We were looking for a hybrid bar, restaurant and events space. I thought the place was ideal due to the arts district, where there are theaters and you can utilize the train and bus.” Ample parking and a second floor were other positives.

Raised in NYC by actor parents, Margolis moved west two decades ago to perform but later found his calling in business. He envisions The Federal as a tradition-minded, old-style pub with hearty food, craft beers, and well-priced wines. It’s a soaring space of brick walls, tall windows, dark wood floors and numerous sprawling bars with a friendly, down-to-earth vibe.

The menu is heavy on comfort food: Five Onion Soup, BBQ Pork Belly Skewers and Southern Fried Chicken. For dessert, there’s Grand Marnier & Pecan Bread Pudding.

However, beer is perhaps the star attraction, with unusual finds like Oskar Blues “Ten Fidy,” an imperial stout from Colorado, and Brother Thelonious, a Belgian strong dark ale from California’s North Coast Brewing. “Initially, I was trying to pull beers from across the U.S. to make up our 20 draught handles. But a lot of craft beer companies don’t distribute in California. So I ended up choosing most from the Pacific Northwest. My goal was to have a solid variation: stouts, IPA, Belgians, lagers and ales,“ Margolis explains.

During the renovation, Margolis kept many of the building’s historic features and charm intact. In fact, from the exterior, The Federal, with a retro sign and pre-existing ornamental streetlights, looks like it could be a pre-WWII corner of Los Angeles.