Even the most experienced restaurateurs still listen to friends' advice. Such is the case with Andre Guerrero and his plans to expand The Oinkster brand to a second location, which will occupy the former Sushi Hiroba on Vine Street between Melrose and Santa Monica Blvd.
“A friend of mine pointed it out to me because he used to hang out at Lou,” says Guerrero. “He knew I was looking for a spot, and said 'Andre you gotta check this place out. I could see an Oinkster here.'” This particular seed was planted back when Guerrero was involved with BoHo by the Arclight and had been looking to grow his “slow fast food” business for some time. Thankfully he's patient and persistent. Sushi Hiroba closed a couple months ago, and the opportunity to open a second Oinkster finally presented itself.
Guerrero signed the lease this week on the 4,000 square foot building, which contains a second level. It's not a mid-century cool roadside vernacular A-frame building, but the lot boasts plenty of surface parking, and the property is aesthetically as clean of a slate as you get with this kind of real estate.
As for the nuts and bolts of the renovation, Guerrero has enlisted Design, Bitches, the firm that recently completed Paul Hibler and Jason Neroni's Superba Snack Bar in Venice, as well as Coolhaus' first non-mobile shop. “Their sensibilities are in line with what we're thinking about,” Guerreo explains. “Avant garde and contemporary.” (The original Eagle Rock Oinkster location was designed by Kristofer Keith of Spacecraft.) Guerrero hopes to open Oinkster 2 within eight months.
And for the main attraction, the Hollywood location will bring the food that Oinkster fans know and love southwestward, while also extending Hollywood's well-established burger district (Go Burger, Hungry Cat, Fuku, Umami, Stout, Juicy Burger, etc.) further south. Guerrero plans to import his signature patties, pastrami and pulled pork. “I'm developing some new sandwiches,” he adds. Because the new venue can't support it, the rotisserie chicken will be gone. But The Oinkster's ube milkshake and other desserts will definitely be served on Vine.
The Oinkster redux will feature a compact bar area with plenty of craft beer. “We've become known for putting together a thoughtful selection, so that will be a part of it,” Guerrero promises. A separate walk-in refrigerator will be dedicated for beer. Plus expect some wine on tap, and Sprecher root beer to fill up ice cream floats.
Other goals of this project are “designing the kitchen to really maximize production and efficiency,” along with improving the business's green practices. These intentions will require some reconciling once large take-out orders from adjacent studios start rolling in come next spring.
Guerrero knows the territory, and understands what's at stake expanding from a beloved Northeast L.A. neighborhood operation to what's arguably a higher profile locale. “We don't have a lot of competition in Eagle Rock, so I'm looking forward to seeing how well we do. We kind of do our own thing. We succeed at what we do, or we don't.”
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Follow the author on Twitter at @TasterTotsLA.