As much as it's tempting to start a new relationship by throwing caution to the wind, the smarter strategy is to take things slow. That's certainly been the approach Alma and the Standard hotel in West Hollywood have taken over the past eight months, but it looks as though the two entities are ready to make a more serious commitment. Today the Standard is announcing that Alma's owners, Ari Taymor and Ashleigh Parsons, are taking over all food and beverage operations at the hotel. That means they'll be responsible for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as room service and poolside dining. It also means that Alma at the Standard, which has been billed as a residency or pop-up, will continue operation for the foreseeable future.
To fans of the original Alma — which shuttered downtown last October after many ups and downs including a Bon Appetit Best New Restaurant award, a couple of James Beard nominations and a lawsuit — the fit might seem strange. Alma was the ultimate DIY restaurant, opened in a small space with little money and a do-what-we-want attitude. But to be partnering with a hotel offers Taymor and Parsons a new kind of freedom.
“The most exciting part for us is to have the buying power of a hotel,” Taymor says. “Our inspiration hasn't changed and our sourcing hasn't changed. All of our vegetables are still coming from the market, and it's a much larger budget to be pumping into the local community.”
The takeover of the non-Alma parts of the hotel's food and drink programs will deliver food we haven't seen from Taymor in the past. “It isn't necessarily going to be Alma,” Taymor says, “it will be an Alma/Standard menu. For the pool it's going to be kind of a country club vibe.” That means a lobster roll, a cheeseburger, a smoked chicken club, and fish and chips. The cocktail menu also will change, and the wine list will have a focus on natural wines. The room service menu will have some crossover with the all-day pool menu, but will also feature breakfast as well as “some specific things for the person who just got off a red-eye, it's late and they're a little grumpy,” Taymor says.
Interestingly, Taymor thinks the clientele at the Standard is more in line with what he originally envisioned for Alma downtown. “It's actually more what I thought it would be when we opened downtown,” he says. “It skews pretty young, and we get a lot of people from the neighborhood. The guests at the hotel tend to leave the hotel and go explore L.A.”
Running an entire hotel's food and beverage program is a vastly different job from running a small restaurant, or running a pop-up. But Taymor is excited about the challenge. “We're pretty stoked to be able to cover a lot of the bases,” he says, “to be able to do a more casual daytime menu and then also to do what we do at night. It's a really dynamic environment, there's lots of different places to hang and eat, and it's a good moment for change. So we're pretty excited.”
Alma at the Standard will continue to serve dinner seven nights a week as well as Sunday brunch. Breakfast will be served daily from 6 a.m. to noon, and the all-day menu will be available in the restaurant from noon to 2:30 p.m. and also on the pool deck from noon until close (10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 11 p.m. Fri. & Sat.).
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