The Hump, the Santa Monica restaurant that faces a federal charge for serving endangered whale meat, announced it's closing its doors effective Saturday.
“The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species,” reads a statement on the restaurant's site. “Closing the restaurant is a self-imposed punishment on top of the fine that will be meted out by the court.”
The statement also revealed that the restaurant's owner, Typhoon Restaurant, Inc., would “make a substantial contribution to one or more responsible organizations dedicated to the preservation of whales and other endangered species.”
The restaurant already faced being kicked out by the city of Santa Monica, which owns and leases the restaurant's space at Santa Monica Airport. The city was looking into the possibility of terminating the lease because language in the agreement allows it to do so if a crime has been committed on the property. Typhoon also operates an eponymous Asian-fusion restaurant in the same building; it will presumably stay open.
It's not clear if the closure is part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, but it sure feels like it. Note that the announcement states the restaurant is expecting a fine, but it makes no mention of the possible one-year jail time that also comes with federal charge brought against the eatery's corporate owner. The restaurant also issued an apology and fully admitted wrongdoing in the case on its site earlier this month. Typhoon and The Hump's sushi chef each face a charge of “illegal sale of a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.” The chef only faces a possible fine.
The whale meat service was given huge press after a documentary film crew went undercover to reveal the practice and then apparently alerted federal investigators. A source who used to work at the eatery told the Weekly the restaurant also served turtle, turtle blood (with port wine) and horse meat.
The restaurant has been open for 12 years and it's whale sashimi, which our source said cost about $50 for four to six slices, was not a big secret. As Los Angeles Magazine notes in its definitive monthly restaurant guide The List, “This is the Kevin Bacon of sushi outfits: Pretty much every L.A. sushi chef comes with six degrees of separation.”