Change what you will about Vernon: the corrupt officials, the voter fraud, the fact that you can only live there if you have the right relationships. But don't go messing with La Villa Basque, the restaurant built over 50 years ago by the now disgraced, now retired mayor, Leonis Malburg. Yes, even though the 81 year-old might be public enemy number one around here, the L.A. Conservancy is fighting against changes at the restaurant he founded. Recently, plans were announced to turn La Villa Basque into a new restaurant named Vivere, but the historic preservationists are arguing that the Googie signage, hybrid functions, half-century history, and Rat Pack vibe that landed it on Mad Men make it a true L.A. landmark. While The Conservancy is rallying its supporters to start patronizing the restaurant to show that it can be commercially viable in its current state, one Vivere manager says, "Most restaurants do an upgrade every seven years...We're just doing stuff that needs to be done." In a city where many are trying to forget the past, Villa Basque might be the one link to years gone by that is worth keeping, though one commenter already asserts that he'd really like to see the food change either way.
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