In the wake of a public health emergency and economic downturn, one of the nation’s hardest-hit realms is indisputably the restaurant and bar industry. Millions of restaurateurs and employees working this essential service are struggling to navigate labor, food costs, rent and their own safety through modified re-openings, mandated closures and the sporadic announcements of dining regulations, and the cost and uncertainty are proving too great for some—resulting in the closures of some of the best restaurants and bars in all of L.A.
A few of the city’s restaurants have pivoted to takeout and delivery specials, while others launched to-go cocktails and patio dining. Some are waiting to reopen in any form, hoping to weather the pandemic without business or staffing; the restaurants below have found that despite their best efforts, their restaurants or bars can no longer hold on.
One of L.A.’s most creative tasting menus—and one of our Best New Restaurants of 2019—closed in April, leaving us, at least for now, without a taste of Eric Bost’s cooking. The chef’s artful and modern Auburn offered a unique choose-your-dishes take on the tasting menu, and even went so far as to make a number of the fine dining menu’s courses available à la carte at the bar: a rarity to both the format and occasional stuffiness of cuisine delivered and conceptualized at Bost’s level. You can read more on the closure here.
“Our talented, hardworking team and I poured our collective experience and passion into auburn and the amazing community it created,” Bost shared on the restaurant’s Instagram. “It goes without saying that this is a crushing experience, having to close after being open a little over a year, yet I’m hopeful for the next chapter and the opportunity to cook for Los Angeles again.”
One of the best bars in L.A. poured its last drink in June. Bibo Ergo Sum launched in Robertson Plaza as a moody, velvet-tinged cocktail bar from the minds of the ArcLight’s Tait Forman (owner), and the lauded Proprietors LLC, who designed the beverage program (and a few others including, oh, Death & Co. and the Normandie Club). The thoughtful cocktails ran from moody and The Prestige-inspired on the opening menu to sunny, citrusy and spicy on their later L.A.-focused drinks list. You can read more on the closure here.
“I never planned on having a true last call, but I definitely didn’t plan on it being a to-go only experience,” Forman posted in June. “So much of why I opened Bibo was to share my love of a great drink and a good conversation with our community, so to have to say good bye from six feet is not what I would have planned. Regardless of the past three months, it has been a blessing to operate and share Bibo.”
Bon Temps lasted less than one year in the Arts District, but it’s already hard to picture the neighborhood’s dining scene without it. One of our Best New Restaurants of 2019, the sleek, industrial modern brasserie from Lincoln Carson gave L.A. one of the best pastry programs in the city, not to mention technically proficient and flawless French-leaning dishes, whether perfectly trussed roast chickens, phenomenal canapés or what was one of our favorite desserts in town: Carson’s chocolate soufflé featuring house-made green chartreuse ice cream. You can read more about the closure here.
“If you care about a place, if a restaurant or a bar or any business in your community matters in some way to you, don’t wait until we are gone,” Carson shared via Instagram. “Do something now, support them now, buy a dinner now, call them while they are still open and ask them now, write a letter or email or call your absolutely clueless legislators and politicians now. It’s really that simple. Don’t wait until the last bottle on the wall is the one that opened the restaurant, and the one that closed it.”
The Taipei-founded dim sum specialist was already an international name, but here in North America it started in Arcadia: After success in Taiwan and Tokyo, the family-owned chain eventually spread to America, landing in a neighborhood strip mall. The restaurant heralded for its xiao long bao, consistency and transparency—with windows into the kitchen where guests can watch as the dumplings get hand-folded—still maintains L.A. outposts in Burbank, Century City’s Westfield mall and in the Westfield Santa Anita. But in June, Din Tai Fung decided to close its first North American location, which was in its 20th year of business.
“Din Tai Fung has always been a family-owned restaurant. We first opened this location 20 years ago to introduce Taiwanese cuisine, culture, and our signature xiao long bao to our guests here in the United States,” founder Bing-Yi Yang, son Yang Ji Hua and the rest of the family shared on the restaurant’s site. “Since then, through the gracious support of our community, we have been able to share the Din Tai Fung experience throughout the West Coast. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this location, making this decision all the more heartbreaking.”
The celebrated Koreatown restaurant cherished for its vibrant and varied menu—and its congenial hospitality from owners Lien Ta and chef Jonathan Whitener—shared that, despite reopening thanks to a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, the restaurant still might not survive the industry collapse caused by coronavirus. Ta shared that there is a slight possibility the restaurant might reopen in the future, but that it also could very well be permanent. After multiple days of pop-ups, special menus and a sidewalk sale, Here’s Looking at You closed just at the restaurant’s fourth anniversary. You can read more about the closure here and still visit sibling restaurant, All Day Baby, in Silver Lake.
“After sending out the last order on the second night of our farewell tribute to HLAY, I took in the breeze, the gradual moonlight, the scent of fried pig pressed against the pandemic-era KTOWN quiet, listening to the foreground sounds of my family sharing food around a table, and I felt consoled by all of it,” Ta shared on Instagram. “Desperately grateful for all of it. Even a brief moment of wishing I could capture the memory without ruining it all at once. The double noun-meaning of present is perhaps my favorite lesson: learning one provides for the other.”
After a quarter of a century of mom-and-pop cooking and some of the best galbi we’ve ever tasted, one of the most beloved Korean restaurants in L.A. is closing. K-town’s Jun Won announced its end on Instagram, citing the industry’s perilous economic situation spurred by coronavirus. The family-run operation has been a fixture for homestyle cooking in multiple locations, offering the Juns’ flavorful banchan, pancakes, stacks of bossam and fantastic house-made kimchi, among other classics. You can still get a taste of Jun Won this week (through the end of July) by ordering takeout, and we recommend that you do.
“We had such an amazing run thanks to our loyal customers that have been dining with us since 1994,” the Instagram post says. “We wanted to extend our appreciation and gratitude for everyone that has supported us throughout these years and hope that our paths will cross in the future. Thank you.”
An iconic Westside steakhouse is gone. Santa Monica’s Pacific Dining Car “closed permanently as a consequence of the Covid-19 shutdown,” leaving only the DTLA/Westlake location when Angelenos crave a combination of food and transportation history. In 1921 founders Fred and Grace built their own dining car—modeled after the popular train cars of the day, but a slightly larger version—and opened to acclaim with steaks, fries and pies. In 1990 the Santa Monica location opened with a 24-hour menu of breakfasts, steaks, bisques, salads and plenty of steakhouse charm.
In June the Santa Monica location announced its closure, along with an online auction allowing fans the chance to buy kitchen items as well as iconography: the bull signage out front, for instance, as well as the dining room’s curtains and even the old-timey oil paintings and light fixtures. The DTLA/Westlake is currently temporarily closed.
“We’re deeply grateful to our staff and customers for nearly 30 years in business on the Westside,” the restaurant’s Instagram account shared. “We are working to reopen our Downtown Los Angeles location, with consideration to the city mandates, as well as your optimal enjoyment. We’ll be sure to update you with any changes in restaurant hours of operation.”
The cheeky, stylish pub—and easily one of the best British pubs in town—gave us ample room to party in leather booths or at the wooden bar, and just as many places to crawl toward when we needed a fry-up and a bit of hair of the dog the next morning. The Hollywood mainstay lasted nearly eight years and brought the neighborhood live performances, late nights and a ton of fun. We’ll always remember it for the pints, the thick-cut fries and the raucous, joyous atmosphere. That, and the hangovers.
“With a heavy heart we say goodbye to our home of almost eight years, The Pikey,” bar manager Steve Lucarelli wrote on the business’s GoFundMe for its employees. “I’m still at a loss for words. It was my home, your home, where I met some of my closest friends, where I met my wife. It’s been such a pleasure meeting you all, I will carry this experience forever. Take care of your family, your friends, and the places you cherish.”
The Pikey’s sibling spot, Swingers, sadly also couldn’t weather coronavirus, and marked the end of a decades-old and cherished diner loved for its late-night scene. Social media erupted when the Beverly diner and its employees shared via Instagram stories that the original location was closing—a blow felt doubly considering the Santa Monica location closed a few months prior. “We are closed permanently, but hoping for a Hail Mary,” a representative of the restaurant told Time Out at the start of April. Crushingly, it looks as though the closure is permanent. A fixture of the neighborhood and a space packed to the gills with pancakes, retro charm and memories, Angelenos shared photos, video farewells and support on what felt like every platform.
“We never expected the outpouring of love and care we’ve received,” says the restaurant’s last Instagram post. “Thank you with all of our hearts for making ours truly a labor of love. It has been an honor to serve and feed our community. We love you.”
We’ll be mourning the loss of this South Bay brewpub for a long time, especially because this means the loss of one of our favorite burgers in L.A. The wife-and-husband team of Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts cite hardship and industry uncertainty due to coronavirus, and when coupled with the restaurant’s building being sold, decided to close the operation. The pair also run Playa Provisions, down the street, which is still up and running.
“The Tripel has brought so much joy and an overwhelming sense of community to our lives and to our neighbors, but at the same time, this business decision needs to be made without emotion,” they posted on Instagram. “If it were left to just that, The Tripel would exist forever… regardless of how you pronounce our name ;) We want to thank you all for your support over the past 10 years… It is because of you all that The Tripel was able to exist to in the first place.”
A true bastion of fine dining and from behind the front of a defunct pizza shop, Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec plated elegant tasting menus that wound through France, California and L.A. The menus and aesthetics were arresting and inspired, and the restaurant won a Michelin star in the guide book’s return to Los Angeles last spring. Given the intimacy of the space, Lefebvre noted that the concept could find no way forward given coronavirus.
“In 2013 the intent of the concept of Trois Mec was to make people feel like they were sitting in my kitchen and experiencing the meal I decided to cook that night. I wanted everyone to feel like one big family, guests and staff alike. Covid-19 has changed everything and there is still such an unknown period ahead of us,” Lefebvre posted to his Instagram page. “I had to accept the reality that it was time to let the idea of reopening Trois Mec go. I am so grateful to all my staff over the years both in the kitchen and front of the house for working tirelessly to maintain Trois Mec atop the L.A. dining scene for seven years. When we got our Michelin Star last year, it was for all of us, not just me. I am forever indebted to all of you.”Share the story