There's been a storm of excitement around Chinatown's classic Hop Louie the past week or so. It's been reported that the gloriously kitschy restaurant and bar will be closing the last week of August, leading many to head to the pagoda for what they fear is the last time.
As it turns out, the restaurant isn't exactly shutting down, and the first-floor bar is definitely staying open. Rather, the owners are taking a break. During that time, they'll try to figure out their next steps — they are thinking about retiring. Which means it's the perfect time for someone to come in and make an offer. A restaurateur with a respect for history would be a great match for this space. Here are five options we'd love to see.
Cailan started out with a food truck and now he's a restaurant entrepreneur, running both semi-permanent and temporary concepts out of his Unit 120 space a couple of blocks from Hop Louie in Far East Plaza. He's a huge force in L.A.'s Filipino food scene, one that is growing in popularity by the week. It seems that his next big undertaking is an Eggslut brick-and-mortar in Rick Caruso's latest Glendale project, but Chinatown is where Cailan made his name. He understands the neighborhood and its visitors.
The founder of the Edison and remodeler of Clifton's has experience in the realm of taking a beloved-but-empty classic and trying to make it a viable business again. He's certainly had some growing pains with the new Clifton's, but who better to revive Hop Louie than someone who knows exactly what obstacles he's up again? And you know the interior design and decor would be beautiful once Meieran and his team got in there.
Choi is some sort of Superman. His unusual path to celebrity chefdom continues to surprise: He could have an eponymous line of pots and pans by now, but he's turned his attention to community involvement. Set him up with Hop Louie and L.A. has a a new generation of service-industry legends in the making. (And the food would be thoughtful updates on Cantonese classics, we bet.)
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Here is a chef who does not half-ass anything. Her focus has long been on Italian and Italian-inspired food, but if she decided to read up on classic Chinese cooking, she'd probably make herself an expert inside of a week. Plus, the older, richer, Westside foodies love her, and she'd draw them out to Chinatown again, where they'd gladly spend their money all over the neighborhood.
If her restaurants are any indication, Lofaso has a lot of fun. And Hop Louie, with its perfect exterior and interior that's screaming for a new, shiny coat of paint, could so easily be a lot of fun. Lofaso's Valley roots have given her an innate understanding of what Angeleno diners want — her restaurants have already conquered Studio City (Black Market Liquor Bar) and Venice (Scopa Italian Roots), so why not give old L.A. a shot, too? Plus, she understands the value of a good cocktail pairing (like we said, fun!), and would probably gussy up the Hop Louie bar, too.