I have been to the Formosa Cafe many, many times. I protested to keep it open when it was, for a time, destined to be demolished and made into parking for Warner's. Lindy made the drinks and Lem Quon could be seen in his booth every night.
I visited it again after a long absence and, unfortunately, found it quite different from how it used to be. Of course, Lindy and Lem are gone and physically, it looks pretty much the same, which is terrific.
The problem was the staff, who were almost aggressively disinterested (although you can subtract the "almost" when talking about the bartender, Jared). Despite the Formosa Cafe still being in the family, this is clearly a crew in dire need of supervision.
Ever been someplace and wonder how a salesperson or waitress can get away with acting so poorly? This happens when there is little or no supervision, and this is the current situation at the Formosa. You can see that they KNOW they can do whatever they want.
The bartender was particularly bad. In a nearly empty bar I could not get his attention while he socialized at the other end. When the bar back told him I was waiting he reacted dramatically; almost violently shrugging his shoulder when the bar back touched him and then swinging around to give me a dirty look. He added extra wait to let me know who was in charge.
Unable to get a drink (in a bar, mind you), I went to the hostess and told her I couldn't get the bartender's attention because of his socializing. Instead of apologizing, she suggested I move to a table, as if I were the problem, not the bartender. In the end, I stayed at the bar and he finally served me.
Staying at the bar, I got to witness him complaining about other customers to the waitress (very poor form), as well as more self-conscious performing. The cheesy theatrics like the dramatic drink shaking (with the strained face to match), the high pours and the strainer flips (which he flubbed every single time) were embarrassing. This is excused when you have a good bartender, defined by a love of mixing and sharing that knowledge and love. Jared displayed neither.
On top of all of this, questions to both the hostess and "bartender" about Lindy, the famous Formosa bartender were met with curt "I dunno's." It was clear they didn't know who I was talking about and didn't care. They don't have to get Lindy tattoos but if you're going to work in the most famous old-time bar in Hollywood, at least know who he is.
I understand that things change; I don't have a problem with that, and I appreciate that Lem Quon's grandson, the current owner, has preserved the Formosa as it used to be, at least physically. However, It's a little sad that the staff could care less about the incredible history of where they work and are not only unsupervised and disinterested, but seem to want you make sure you know it.`
I'm giving it three stars. If you want to see some of Hollywood history preserved it's definitely worth a trip. In all likelihood, you'll like it more than the people who work there.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.