L.A. restaurants and diners rallied together over the last 48 hours to support Alma, after owners Ari Taymor and Ashleigh Parsons started an IndieGoGo campaign and announced they needed $40,000 to keep the downtown restaurant from closing. Taymor went on the record in a very candid interview with Grub Street about the financial woes the restaurant has experienced since last year, when they were sued by a former adviser, who they say is “extremely rich and well-connected in the Hollywood community” and who will not stop until the business is bankrupt. The campaign highlights a lot of complex issues at play in L.A.'s cutthroat restaurant industry, many of which also came up when Starry Kitchen requested $500,000 through a Kickstarter campaign in January. How can a place that's critically successful still fail financially? Can a chef's dream restaurant survive in the real world? Will crowdfunding save a restaurant from closing? So far, Alma's IndieGoGo has raised $21,000 and counting.
Yahoo News, of all places, became the first media to report from the research-and-development frontlines of LocoL, the new fast-food project from chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson. The writer was given unprecedented access to their Bay Area test kitchen (aka Patterson's restaurant Coi) where he got some of the first bites of the burgers LocoL plans to serve when it opens in Watts and the Tenderloin district of San Francisco within the year. “This isn’t just the best veggie burger I’ve ever tasted. It’s one of the best burgers, period,” writer Andrew Romano fawns. The peek inside the concept — which aims to make chef-quality food at McDonald's prices — also revealed the menu will include “Burgs” for $4, “Foldies” for $2, “Bowls” for $6 and mix-and-match “Yotchays” for 99 cents per item.
Burger King in Japan is releasing another solid-color burger that defies the physical properties of food as we know it. Last year it served up an all-black goth burger, and now comes the announcement of an all-red demon burger, made by adding tomato powder to the buns and cheese. The burger is actually being called the Samurai Burger and will be served with a chicken patty instead of a regular hamburger patty. The black burger also received an improvement: It's now topped with deep fried eggplant.
In L.A. restaurant change-ups: Barnyard in Venice reopened but is already out of an executive chef; Canadian poutine-obsessed chain Smoke’s Poutinerie is now open in Hollywood; Starbucks is closing all of its La Boulange stores, including the massive one it built from the ground up on La Brea; and two Father's Office alums are opening a gastropub called the Bellwether in Studio City.
Tweets o' the Week:
Kind of skipped lunch today and now I'm regretting it. How do you beautiful people do it?
— Zach Brooks (@midtownlunchLA) June 15
Went to Applebee's for the first time in my life last night. That is all for right now.
— Helen Hollyman (@HHOLLYMAN) June 17 2015
Saturday, June 20: L.A. Brewers Beer Week Kickoff Festival
The seventh annual L.A. Beer Week kicks off this weekend with an epic beer fest at Exposition Park featuring all 30-plus members of the L.A. Brewers Guild and then some. Can't make it to the kickoff fest? No worries, there are nine more days ahead to celebrate local beer. Check out our event picks for the rest of L.A. Beer Week here.
Monday, June 22: Field Recordings Winemaker Dinner
Ledlow hosts an evening with Field Recordings winemaker Andrew Jones. Chef Josef Centeno will prepare a five-course dinner, paired with Jones' select Paso Robles wines, including an exclusive reserve California port.
Thursday, June 25: Tanzy Farmers Market Dinner
Tanzy in Westwood is showing off its love for local meat and vegetables with a four-course dinner that highlights the summer farmers market bounty. Teaming up with Napa Valley vineyard Trefethen, chef Bryan Podgorski is creating a prix fixe menu that includes English pea soup, burrata salad, crispy skin duck breast and cheesecake “souffle.”