South Bay restaurant czars Michael Franks and Robert Bell are scheduled to open their latest project, Depot, in late June. "After a long wait, we've finally been granted building permits and construction is under way," Franks says. Part of the delay: The building had to be brought up to the current earthquake code. "It's a great old building--high ceilings, brick walls," Franks says. "It was built in 1912 as the Red Car railroad depot."
The 120-seater will feature what Franks calls American urban grill food--with ethnic influences. "Michael Shafer from the Doubletree Hotel in Pasadena is coming on board to cook for us," says Franks, obviously caught up in the train theme of the project.
"We were thinking of calling the place the Choo Choo Grill," he admits, "but we decided such an elegant building deserved a more dignified name, so we settled on Depot--besides, the name fits with our other restaurants, Fino and Misto."
ON THE TABLE: The Original Tommy's, the ramshackle L.A. hamburger stand that serves more than 25,000 customers a week, is rolling back its prices . . . for one day only. The reason? It's Tommy's 45th anniversary. From noon until midnight, this Wednesday only, you can pick up a chili-topped cheeseburger and a soft drink for a buck. Not bad, even in these low-down fast-food times. . . . . Meanwhile, in Venice, chef Hans Rockenwagner is honoring his favorite vegetable--white asparagus--by featuring an all-asparagus menu at his restaurant, Rockenwagner, during the pale vegetable's brief season.