Rivera Closing: Why We're Sad, Yet Sadly Not Surprised

Dining Room at Rivera
Dining Room at Rivera
Anne Fishbein

Yesterday, Eater reported that Rivera, John Sedlar's modern Latin restaurant Rivera will close at the end of this year. It also reported that Sedlar is relocating to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to open a Southwestern restaurant.

Last night, representatives for Sedlar confirmed the closing, saying:

Rivera restaurant owner/chef John Rivera Sedlar announced today that in early 2015 he is opening his first restaurant ever to be located in his hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. ELOISA restaurant will be located on historic Palace Avenue in the heart of Santa Fe, a block from the famous plaza....

As he prepares to open ELOISA, chef Sedlar will be closing the doors on the current location of his acclaimed Rivera restaurant in downtown Los Angeles at the end of 2014. Rivera's last night of service downtown will be December 31, with a New Year's Eve celebration featuring a retrospective of seven years of both John Sedlar's modern Latin cuisine and Julian Cox's trendsetting cocktails, which were born out of Rivera’s bar program and have raised the bar for craft cocktail programs in Los Angeles and beyond.

Rivera opened almost exactly six years ago to much critical acclaim. In the meantime he also opened and closed Playa on Beverly Boulevard, in the space that is now Petty Cash Taqueria. 

I ate at Rivera late last week, and had been planning on writing about it in the context of walking into an (unnamed) restaurant that appears to be limping toward death. I had eaten at the restaurant in the past and enjoyed it immensely, but this recent visit was a shock. The staff seemed slightly disengaged, and the advertised "loncheras" cart, which was supposed to come by with small plates to choose from, never came. One dining room was closed off. The drinks and some of the dishes were as good as ever, but I said to my dining partner, "This feels like a place that will be closed in six months." 

Sedlar's departure is no doubt a huge loss for L.A. His influence on the city has been immeasurable. We wish him luck in New Mexico. 

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