When most people say they’re moving to LA to pursue their dream, it’s a safe bet that dream is becoming a famous movie or rock star. When Joshua Kopel left Louisiana for Los Angeles in 2003, he was a recent college graduate looking for a change of environment. In 2006, after working jobs that left him restless and unfulfilled, he opened his first business, a clothing company called Localgod. Three years later, he sold the successful international brand and began planning to open his first bar and restaurant.
Joshua, a southern transplant with known moonshiners in his family, envisioned bringing an authentic, downhome Louisiana experience to Los Angeles. Think legendary southern hospitality, a warm and inviting atmosphere and powerful moonshine cocktails. After all, his grandfather was a moonshiner in Lafayette, Louisiana and this notorious white whiskey spirit has been growing increasingly popular amongst mixologists and those looking to partake in the hottest craft cocktail trends.
Joshua’s first concept was Five0Four, opening in Hollywood in 2010. The French Quarter-themed establishment was a massive hit among casual diners, foodies and social scenesters. Expanding on the French Quarter concept, Five0Four was rebranded as Royal after the (in)famous New Orleans street. Joshua, however, was not content to own and operate just one location in Los Angeles.
Those of you who have visited the French Quarter in New Orleans will immediately be transported there once you’ve stepped inside Kopel’s newest venue, Preux & Proper in Downtown LA. The frozen daiquiri bar located on P&P’s lower floor is pure Bourbon Street, as are the go-cups in which they’re served. Of course, you can’t leave the building with the go-cup but it’s a detail that helps to tie the theme together.
Upstairs you’ll find the dining area, complete with a raw bar. Again, if you’ve been to the French Quarter you’ll just get it; don’t be surprised if a knowing smile stretches across your face. If you haven’t done NOLA, you’ll want to plan a trip after trying any of the delicious, authentic Louisiana fare and letting P&P’s vibe wash over you. It’s no small feat, entering LA’s wining and dining scene, surviving and ultimately thriving. Part of Joshua’s success boils down to the thorough realization of his concept. Royal and Preux & Proper are no mere slapdash Mardi Gras themes, they’re fully fleshed out French Quarter visions, each with their own distinct personalities. Another key to the operator’s success is his ability to engage with the community which he serves. The food, while faithful to Louisiana’s specific, robust cuisine, embraces southern California’s commitment to farm-to-table freshness and environmental responsibility.
And then there’s the dedicated moonshine cocktail program.
The majority of bars that have moonshine on their menus tend to carry either Ole Smoky or Midnight Moon. At last count, Preux & Proper counted over 30 moonshines on offer…and that number will probably have grown since the time of publishing. P&P carries Ole Smoky, Midnight Moon, Firefly, Stillhouse and more: “We’re working with brokers to get every moonshine there is out there,” says Joshua. Moonshine comes in several flavors and mixes with cocktails in a fashion similar to vodka but, due to its use of corn mash, often imbues a touch of sweetness. Preux & Proper’s cocktail menu features plenty of flavored moonshines, including peach and watermelon (which has been hot all summer).
Joshua Kopel has done his family and the legacy of the French Quarter justice with Royal and Preux & Proper, paying close attention to the details to bring his concepts to life, embracing the sensibilities of the communities in which he operates and going full force with a spirit category that lends itself to the creation of approachable, flavorful craft cocktails.
Want to meet and mingle with successful operators? Attend the Nightclub & Bar Show! Registration opens in October.