Chef Sammy Monsour and Kassady Wiggins, the couple behind the former Preux & Proper in DTLA, have teamed up with co-owners Prince and Athena Riley to open Joyce, a modern coastal restaurant bringing reimagined Southern cuisine to South Park. And it’s just a short walk from their old stomping grounds.
The elevated comfort food concept in the former Red Herring space on Grand Avenue with an emphasis on sustainably sourced seafood and cocktails is expected to open by the end of this month. A southern coastal feel from L.A.-based interior designer Lauren Waters fills the space with a lot of greens, blues, light, rattan, and caning with natural wood tones.
“The vision for the menu is 50 percent seafood, 25 percent plant-forward, and 25 percent terrestrial protein,” Monsour tells L.A. Weekly in Riley’s new home above the Whole Foods Market. “ My inspiration is everything I’ve experienced over the last five years of my life. We’ve always been coastal people, but As I’ve gotten into more of my ocean conservation work, we’re very focused on that. It’s a small place. We want that shared table experience with a free-flowing kitchen. The food comes out when it’s ready. There’s a big raw bar program, with contemporary takes on southern classics as well as straightforward options to make sure people get the traditional dishes they crave. The menu is a tool for both. There are playful items as well as classic comfort foods. L.A. kind of pulls that out of me.”
There will be plenty of cast iron cooking and smoked specialties including South Carolina Lowcountry Gullah Geechee style gai lan, passionfruit barbequed duck leg, shrimp and oyster perloo, smoked trout deviled eggs, and pate choux beignets with Mexican chocolate ganache for dessert.
“There are compost buckets throughout the restaurant,” says Monsour. “ Anywhere you would see a garbage can in a restaurant we have three bins – the recycler, the composter, and black trash can. Eighty percent of our output ends up recyclable or compostable. Kassidy’s bar program produces zero landfill waste. Everything the bar produces can be recycled or composted. Forty percent of all edible food in the U.S. gets wasted. We’re not just incentivized to do this as a business for better costs, but as people who are dedicated. A lot of resources went into producing that food that all gets wasted. It’s not just about the methane gasses when it goes to landfill – what about the water, the nutrients – especially if it’s an animal protein? What can we do to lessen that 40 percent in our households?”
As far as the fish-forward menu, Monsour is bringing the southeastern Cobia crudo to Los Angeles. The chef follows the Caribbean species that is sourced from a sustainable farm in Panama and is followed from broodstock to plate by the chef. The shrimp come from the TransparentSea Shrimp Farm in Downey and the vermillion rockfish ceviche is sourced from local Channel Islands fisherpeople.
“There’s going to be a partnership with Maker’s Mark and they are going to help us offset our carbon footprint for this restaurant,” says Wiggins. “What a restaurant buys can make a huge impact on the environment. The biggest thing is waste. Composting is a huge thing. When you have a scratch bar, you’re juicing everything and making syrups from scratch. Most of that usually just gets thrown away in the black trash bin which ends up creating methane gas in a landfill.”
Named after his daughter’s and mother’s middle name, Riley moved his family from Costa Mesa to his new home in South Park and is eager to open the Joyce doors and share the comeback story of the two Carolina natives.
“It’s a great connection for me and two people who I love and the passing of the torch from one Joyce to another,” says Riley. “Joyce is also a subset of the word rejoice, which means to have joy and give joy to others and is a mission statement for our team”
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