Ballast Point Sells For $1 Billion, the Numero Uno Taco Bell Building Hits the Road and More: This Week in Food
Numero Uno on the move
Last night, we watched from a street corner in Cerritos as Taco Bell saved a slice of its history. The fast-food chain up and moved its original location 45 miles from Downey to corporate headquarters in Irvine on the back of a flatbed truck. The building, which is about the size of a two-car garage, is a mission-inspired taqueria with a small kitchen, a walk-up window and some outdoor seats where founder Glen Bell first started slinging his crispy Mexican tacos (inspired by San Bernardino's Mitla Cafe) to suburbanites in 1962. It was closed in 1986, when Taco Bell began favoring larger locations with drive-thrus, but lived on as a home for other taco stands before ending up vacant earlier this year. Under threat of demolition to make way for new development, the original Taco Bell was rescued by the company, which, responding to public outcry, fronted the money to preserve and transport the structure. Starting at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, the entire building was driven for about five hours along the streets of L.A. and Orange counties until it reached its destination. Taco Bell says it's not yet sure what to do with the building, but there are talks of turning it into a museum like the one attached to the oldest operating McDonald's, which is also in Downey.
Monday morning brought some of the craziest news in the increasingly crazy world of craft-beer mergers: San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits is being acquired by Constellation Brands for $1 billion. Yes, that's billion with a "b." It's the largest craft brewery acquisition to date, and that price may be hard to top. Ballast Point is only the 31st largest craft brewer in the country, but it has an extensive portfolio of year-round and experimental beers that are already in wide distribution. It also owns a home brew store, a production brewery, a distillery and a pilot-batch brewpub, all in San Diego County. According to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board's license query system, Ballast Point also has pending applications for two new brewpubs — one in Temecula and one on the waterfront in Long Beach. Last month, the company filed plans for an IPO, which would have made it the first in California to go public. Ballast Point is the first craft venture for its new parent company, which is more known for producing and marketing wine, spirits and macro beer brands like Corona and Modelo. In 2013, Constellation acquired all of Grupo Modelo's U.S. beer business from AB-Inbev, including a brewery in Mexico, for $4.75 billion.
Eggslut is continuing its own world domination (of popular egg sandwiches) with the announcement of another new location, this time at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. This marks the third Eggslut outside of owner Alvin Calian's original Grand Central Market stall; the second, which is coming in Venice, was announced last month.
Some shakeups occurred in the food journalism world over the last week, with the L.A. Times' former food editor and current columnist Russ Parsons announcing he is moving on from the paper after 26 years. According to L.A. Observed, Parsons was one of around 70 employees who accepted generous buyout packages, making next week his last at the Times. Food & Wine magazine editor Dana Cowin, who has held the job for 21 years, also announced that she'll be leaving her post. Her new gig is as an executive at Club International, a company with restaurants across the country that serve as venues for some of the top visiting chefs in the world. "Food culture is so different from the way it was 20 years ago, so different from the old idea of fine dining, and people are so passionate about this beer or that vegetable farmer or this new coffee — it is always so inspiring," Cowin told the L.A. Times this week. She's staying at Food & Wine through January.
This week's restaurant review dives into the Santa Monica Yacht Club, one of the few West Coast seafood establishments in L.A. Critic Besha Rodell praises chef Andrew Kirschner (of Tar & Roses) for his focused and creative fish dishes that borrow from Asia, Mexico and South America but remains distinctly SoCal. Read the full review and check out Anne Fishbein's gorgeous food photography.
In L.A. restaurant news: Once-beloved Beverly restaurant Cook's County is closing next week; Salt & Straw is opening its fourth L.A. location, this one in Studio City; and Superba Food + Bread is opening at The Point in El Segundo, which is quickly filling up with some great dining options.
Tweets o' the Week:
Overheard at BA: "My ideal box of chocolates is one that already has a bite taken out of every piece."— Bon Appetit Magazine (@bonappetit) November 17, 2015
True Life: I'm Addicted to the Pret Holiday Sandwich— Chris Schonberger (@cschonberger) November 17, 2015
Dear @fwscout: This is my public note of gratitude for the brilliance, grace & generosity you have brought to food journalism. Thank you.— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) November 17, 2015
Friday, Nov. 20: Pairing Is Caring 2
Inside the Cellar, the online beer-buying service that's changing the way people drink L.A. beer, is hosting its quarterly bottle-share charity event, this time at Monk's Space in Koreatown. Like a mini beer fest mixed with the ultimate home beer-sharing party, seven breweries will be pouring at stations, and you're welcome to bring special bottles to share with others.
Saturday, Nov. 21: Chefs Jason Neroni and Justin Smillie Collaboration Dinner
Chef Jason Neroni is hosting a collaboration dinner at the newly opened Rose Cafe in Venice with New York City chef Justin Smillie of Upland. The dinner includes beverage pairings and a signed copy of Smillie's new book, Slow Fires, but perhaps most exciting is the chance to preview some of Neroni's dinner dishes, which will be on the menu once Rose Cafe opens evenings.
Sunday, Nov. 22, through Tuesday, Nov. 24: Dickens Dinner
Tam O' Shanter's annual holiday tradition returns with a dinner accompanied by a 19th-century–decked acting troupe singing carols and giving their best rendition of the Charles Dickens holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Dig into roasted goose and prime rib while nestled by the fire inside one of L.A.'s oldest restaurants, which goes all out with Christmas decorations and more. Multiple showings this and next week ensure you can't miss.
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