On the day before what would have been the restaurant’s fourth birthday, Here’s Looking at You will close—maybe temporarily, maybe forever.
The celebrated restaurant cherished for its vibrant and varied menu—and its congenial hospitality from owners Lien Ta and chef Jonathan Whitener—shared today that, despite reopening thanks to a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, the Koreatown restaurant still might not survive the industry collapse caused by coronavirus.
“We are closing Here’s Looking At You. For now. On paper, this is temporary. But, of course, you don’t need us to tell you that life is super-duper uncertain right now,” Ta wrote in a statement posted to HLAY’s website and Instagram page.
The restaurant initially shuttered on March 16, when Governor Gavin Newsom called for statewide restaurant and bar closures, then reopened May 28 for takeout service. Unfortunately, Ta says the model is unsustainable for the restaurant, but before HLAY closes this Sunday you can experience four pop-ups and special menus spread across the restaurant’s potentially final last five days, including a greatest-hits night, brunch and the return of their Tet-a-Tet Vietnamese food pop-up.
“Business has been very slow,” Ta continued. “It’s eerily quiet in K-town. The burgers and frog’s legs went unordered most nights. We were immensely grateful for the opportunity to give ‘HLAY to-go’ a fighting shot (given the disturbing spread of Covid-19, the thought of reopening our dining room only exacerbated my anxiety), to work with our magical staff again, and now—NOW!—have the next five days together to toast our funny little restaurant in the event we cannot make good on the hashtag: #HLAYforever.”
Tonight you can find the taco pop-up Tacos Drama—from chef James “Drama” Martinez—serving walk-up birria and barbacoa tacos at the restaurant, plus campechano, churros and to-go cocktails, all from 5 to 8pm. Order taco platters and meat by the pound online by 2pm today.
Thursday, HLAY will reprise its 2016 Tet-a-Tet pop-up, offering crispy suckling pig with all the bánh mì fixings; crispy veal imperial spring rolls with tonnato mayo; coconut pudding with Thai basil and corn streusel; and plenty of the HLAY’s Tiki Thursday cocktails to-go, with food and drinks available via preorder and cocktails available for walk-up between 5 and 8pm.
Friday is all about playing the hits: HLAY will offer its signature dishes for takeout—including the frog legs and beef tartare, among others—plus offer house-made home goods such as steak-rub seasoning, scallion vinaigrette, their beloved tonnato sauce, citrus ponzu sauce, and salsa negra, in addition to cocktails to-go. Preorder for food, pantry items and cocktails online, or walk up for cocktails from 5 to 8pm.
And finally, Saturday and Sunday is all about brunch—one of the Here’s Looking at You’s most popular menus. From 11am to 3pm both days, stop by for classics such as the okonomiyaki, the coconut waffle, zucchini bread, and chef Thessa Diadem’s Jerusalem bagel. The brunch menu will be preorder-only, with potential for a restaurant sidewalk sale to help the restaurant make ends meet.
“If you can,” Ta wrote, “please join us for any or ALL of the following [events] as we honor our superhero staff, present and past, and our story.”
Here’s Looking at You is located at 3901 W 6th St in Koreatown.
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