Restaurateur and chef Andre Guerrero knows that building a new restaurant in Los Angeles isn't an exercise in speed. Nonetheless, he's now antsy because for almost two years, the less preferable for this context adjective in Oinkster's "slow fast food" slogan better describes the process of launching Oinkster Hollywood. Come the week of April 21, Guerrero and his staff will finally start cranking out the burgers, pastrami sandwiches, Belgian-style french fries, milkshakes and other signature items for which the Eagle Rock mainstay has become justly famous.
What was formerly Sushi Hiroba - and before that a Two Guys from Italy for many years - has been rebuilt from top to bottom under the creative guidance of Design, Bitches to re-envision the classic casual American burger joint experience. With over 3,000 square feet to play with on a prime corner lot on Vine north of Melrose, Oinkster Hollywood will offer seating for approximately 110, both indoors and out, much like the original in Eagle Rock.
Oinkster Hollywood's menu will be pared down in one department: rotisserie chicken isn't part of the offerings. But that doesn't mean choices are limited, since "we have added a lot of sandwiches," Guerrero says, plus standout special items from events such as Burger Week and the Oinkster's monthly burger specials will become permanent. Fans of the Cluckster fried chicken sandwich, the pork adobo burger, and Oinkster's version of a bacon Western cheeseburger don't need to wait for those specials to reappear for a limited time only.
Relatively health-conscious customers can chose from a new wedge salad with bacon and heirloom cherry tomatoes, and an arugula with shaved Parmesan and cherry tomato salad. In the french fry department, Oinkster Hollywood will make additional new dipping sauces, including chipotle aioli and a truffle aioli. Look for expanded milkshake creations, too, along with the ample craft beer options folks have come to expect. Coffee is from Intelligentsia, and other local purveyors include Alhambra-based institution Fosselman's Ice Cream and Frisco Baking Company in Cypress Park.
Think of this as looking like a school cafeteria where the really cool kids eat. The design team crafted a loose, open, uber-creative canteen vibe, with mostly fixed bench seating, simple white Corian tabletops, and a liberal use of linoleum tile throughout. At Oinkster Hollywood, this utilitarian and classic material isn't limited to its typical placement on floors. "I gave them a lot of freedom," Guerrero says about his collaboration with Design, Bitches. (Read more about the duo here.) "I wanted them to be able to express themselves. You get the best out of somebody when you allow that." The linoleum-clad shared wall between the kitchen and dining room, for instance, vaguely spells out "OINK" in an oversized pixellated manner that's probably most readily detectable to Minecraft addicts.
Other components reference the first Oinkster's mid-century roadside vernacular design. Bold red is used throughout the building, with flashes of other primary colors, along with black, white, and gray contrasts. A low chevron-patterned wall encloses the extensive patio as a nod to the Eagle Rock A-frame building and sign. Concrete planters have been poured in place to define the space and add a smart minimalist landscaping component.
There's a large communal table outside which will have barstools, "but people can stand around if they're in a big group," Guerrero says. Dogs are welcome in another discrete corner of the patio, and a sculptural red bike rack sends a pro-cyclist message. L.A.-based artist Travis Millard will add window decals, as well as a mural of a new Oinkster Hollywood mascot.
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And to answer a burning question that Oinkster loyalists who live closer to the new spot will want to know: yes, Burger Week will happen at Oinkster Hollywood.
Oinkster Hollywood: 776 Vine St., Los Angeles.