By Sheila Madsen, May 2021.
[updated September 2022: Be sure to visit the La Roosevelt art gallery and Baul de Monerias on the first floor, open Thursday to Sunday from 4 pm. to 8 pm. You can have crépes and coffee at Mareé , closed Tuesdays, 10-10 – “love at first crépe.” Metl Mezcaleria ,[mezcal and a small Mexican menu] closed Monday and Tuesdays, 6 pm. – 1 am. To read a review of Metl please click here. Mawe. Cocina Vegana, a vegan restaurant, closed Tuesdays, 8 am. – 10 pm.]
“Make your own money so a man has nothing but loyalty to offer you.” That’s an original quote from the owner and creative director of La Roosevelt, Isabel Toledo. The petit Mexican- Lebanese woman is focused and driven [just look at her practical work boots] and proudly says “I am creating this project with my own money, there is no family money involved, it’s all mine.”
What exactly is La Roosevelt? The house, located in Centro on Roosevelt and Carnaval, belonged to her great grandmother. From zero to 7 years-old Isabel grew up in the house built in 1933 and then her family moved to Culiacan- but she returned often and she always knew that one day it would be her house, Ownership was transferred to her in 2015; on April 6, 2021 she hit the ground running as she had been planning La Roosevelt for 15 years.
You may have walked by this ruin [it has been abandoned for 20 years] so you know it’s a massive house with a large footprint. No high-rise condos for Isabel. She’s restoring the house to its former art deco glory with glorious additions. The heart of La Roosevelt is art – there will be an art gallery – possibly several – and art will be displayed throughout La Roosevelt.
I said La Roosevelt is living art because you will be living with art. Isabel has planned for a boutique hotel, two divine rooms; if you prefer to rent an apartment there are two apartments each with en-suite bathrooms. Imagine being able to rent these gorgeous rooms in Centro and listen to a local piano player, take a master class in painting, attend a gala opening of a prominent Mexican artist, or wake up to a sunrise and a yoga class. La Roosevelt is a living breathing gift to Centro.
If you are wondering about coffee, wine, tequila, beer or food, Isabel has that covered too. There are three areas for commercial spaces that she will lease out to the right vendor. The suppliers will have to be sympatico with her vision; tranquil, arty, and something “to cheer up the locals with locals…I’m only going to support local businesses who’d enjoy being in La Roosevelt family.” At the moment there is Mareé Crepes, Metl Mezcaleria, Il Santo Peccato – pizza and Mawe Cocina Vegana.
Isabel is managing everything – every single detail. She even hired out-of-town Mexican workers who live in the house so they can work 24/7! I asked her if she ever hesitated making a decision about furniture, a tile, a light fixture and she looked directly at me and said “I’ve been planning this for 15 years – you think I’m not sure?” Snap. Her confidence comes from her extensive background: Mexican maternal parents, Lebanese paternal parents, she studied business administration in Merida, then English and French in Nova Scotia [“I love Canada” – she then proceeded to sing the Canadian national anthem], art history in LA and finally wedding and event planning in Barcelona. Snap. Isabel speaks English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Snap. Oh yeah, Isabel is an art dealer and often travels to buy and sell art and she has her own private collection. Her private art collection will be gracing the walls and halls of La Roosevelt.