UPDATE: We've learned that a cafe (coffee and pastries) is moving into the restaurant space. Current photo of the building below.
Call the number listed for Silver Lake's Territory BBQ + Records and all you'll get is a telling, "We're sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected..." Yeah, we're sorry too. West Coast Sound was excited when the perfect-on-paper double-sided dream opened up last year at the corner of Hoover and Bellevue.
Approach the oddly shaped building from its broad side and you'd see intimate seating, perhaps a makeshift DJ booth and -- surely -- large, piping hot grills doing what it is they do best. Turn the corner to enter the restaurant and another treasure would reveal itself: a small vinyl records shop specializing in vintage psych, '60s pop and far-out world reissues. Word is that within certain circles, the word "Territory" was being considered as a replacement for "Heaven."
Alas, there was trouble in paradise.
A call to Territory co-founder Tony Presedo, a self-described veteran of the music business who once ran Tee Pee Records, confirmed what WCS had already suspected: The restaurant side of the business has been shut down for good, and the record store will go kaput by the end of February. Presedo cited a number of reasons that things just didn't work out. Most of those were on the record. We get into it after the jump.
"It's been a rough run of years for me," Presedo started. "I got pushed out of Tee Pee at the end of 2008, and kind of shit the bed, so I have to start over, I guess."
Among the reasons the restaurant failed, in his eyes: lack of parking, nighttime safety issues, lack of liquor license (due to lack of parking), product inconsistency, bad weather (for predominantly outdoor seating), and sub-par meat.
"Getting meat in L.A. is a fucking disaster," he said. "If you're in Texas or Kansas City, even back East, it's not that hard to get a whole pig or a side of beef and butcher it yourself, essentially going direct from the farmer to the restuarant. California's great for produce and great for fish, but terrible for meat. We were buying pork shoulder from Restaurant Depot and Smart & Final. I mean, come on, I wouldn't want to eat pork from Smart & Final. God knows how many hands it touched on the way to market."
Numerous customers on Yelp voiced serious, often comical complaints about cleanliness. Here's a sampling:
From Paul G.:
"Okay it's not the cleanest establishment so if you are the least bit OCD this place is not worth it unless you order carry out and have someone else go in and get it."
From Mary Beth B.:
"Back east, no self respecting BBQ joint would have such scraggly servers. I don't usually judge based on appearances, but dirty is dirty, and there's too many places I can go without having my food brought to me by someone with matted, stray dog-esque hair."
From Mika K.:
"Then there were the beards! I did not see a single mouth of any man working there. Those beards had YEARS on them. NO ONE was wearing a hair net on the head or the beard, which, in as many restaurants as I have worked in I can assuredly say is, not acceptable.The dirty clothes don't help either. Neither did the unbuttoned shirt to the navel of the dude cooking."
You get the idea. Tony himself is a hugely hirsute man (that's him on the right), but he didn't spend much time in the kitchen or serving customers, preferring to work the record shop. His partner Curtis Brown -- who hails from North Carolina, the state whose barbecue style Territory specialized in -- was in charge of the restaurant.
"I'm very disappointed that that was the brunt of the complaints that came from Yelp," said Presedo. "I didn't do the hiring. I don't have anything against the people that worked there personally, but I don't want someone who looks like me serving me either."
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Another Yelp user, Andrew E., claimed to have seen two members of the staff smoking pot in full view of the cutomers, adding, "Maybe the problem is that at least 50 percent of staff are clearly baked." Presedo refused to comment on that exactly, or reports of Brown being drunk on the job, but acknowledged that "a lot of factors" contributed to the business' demise.
The restaurant has essentially been shuttered since the end of December. Territory Records is set to close by the end of the month, with its remaining stock being sold to an unspecified store. There will be no close-out sale or gala. It'll simply fold into the neighborhood until a new use for the space is found.
Presedo said he's currently unsure of his next move, that he's hesitant to return to the music business, but that he does want to try the restaurant thing again at some point down the line.
"I want to open up a Galician tapas restaurant," he said. "Galicia is this specific region in northwest Spain above Portugal. My parents are both from there. They do a lot of octopus and pork, tortillas and pimientos de padrón. It's great stuff."