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Tarts and Flowers

January 27, 1994|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY

Here's a flower shop with a twist: It doubles as a restaurant.

At the Rita Flora Kitchen and Flower Shop, the aroma of fresh flowers is rivaled only by the culinary offerings.

Located at La Brea Avenue and 6th Street in Los Angeles, Rita Flora offers a menu complete with muffins, sandwiches, specialties and salad plates. Popular choices include cheese tortellini with pesto, steamed vegetables and Thai noodles with chicken in peanut sauce. (Selections range from $5.25 to $7.95). Top it off with a dessert, such as a chocolate brownie or sugar-free fruit tart, which are baked fresh daily.

While customers savor gourmet delights and sip frothy espressos, they sit on tall stools, gazing out on the busy street.

"I have always liked the atmosphere," said Lisa Annala, a semiregular customer. "There is no place like it in the area. It's a casual place . . . being around the flowers is great, the doors open out (onto the street) and the menu is good."

Owner Rita Azar opened Rita Flora six years ago. When the space next door became available three years later, she expanded and opened the restaurant portion, which has enjoyed enormous success, both for dining and takeout.

During the day, the clientele varies from business and entertainment executives to neighborhood residents. Patrons can read, chat or people-watch without interruption. And, of course, they can buy flowers.

Wayne Pepper, who stopped by for a quick lunch last Friday, said: "I like to get flowers for my wife afterward."

Rita Flora Kitchen/Flower Shop is located at 460 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. Hours are 8 a.m. to midnight daily. Flowers cannot be purchased after 10 p.m. (213) 931-9900.

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