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You Won't Have Clusi Batusi To Knock Around Anymore on Sawtelle

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What's going into the prime location next because a simple pizza joint couldn't survive

Outside Clusi Batusi, Sawtelle
Outside Clusi Batusi, Sawtelle
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Clusi Batusi managed to land onto Sawtelle right when things were ramping up for the neighborhood. With about the highest density of places to eat in the city of Los Angeles, it seemed like a relatively solid concept: build your own pizzas in the vein of 800 Degrees. But sadly the place wrote a (really really long) letter on their website that ultimately states that after putting their lease on the market, they've decided to take the sale and close down forever as of October 1. After two years of serving the denizens of Sawtelle and building up a strong following on social media and Yelp, Clusi Batusi is no more. Now the question is, what concept purchased that prime location?

Read the whole letter here:

Dearest Clusi Batusi Fans, Friends, Family and Cats,

This is Anna, the waitress and designer of the Clusi logo. 

This morning we have an announcement to make: 

Clusi Batusi is closed as of today, Oct 1, 2014. Permanently.

Some may have directly heard from Michele and I on different occasions; some may have heard it through the vines. As successful an Italian restaurant as Clusi Batusi had become on Sawtelle over the past two years on one of the most competitive culinary destinations in Los Angeles, we've been striving physically and mentally to keep our doors open as a business. Though we had 4 ½ stars on Yelp without paying them a dime to keep the high ratings while food-bloggers and instagrammers loved and raved about our food and had a strong fan base, we put an ad out for our lease on the market a while back. When we received an offer that worked for us considering all conditions, negotiations started with the buyer, papers were finally signed, and we were to move out right away. 

The signing happened yesterday and we had two days to move out.

Last night was our final day in business. 

We truly apologize for such an abrupt closing of our doors.

Now let me speak from my heart.

There have been few things in my life so far that simultaneously felt like losing a friend in a car crash and feeling the breathtaking tight hug of an old friend that bids a farewell for a next big journey. Honestly I've no adequate words nor headspace to pin-point the discombobulated emotional stir that has been going on since yesterday. It happened all too sudden. Nobody at Clusi expected things to proceed with such speed and I feel like we are all trying to wrap our heads around this.

Over the past two years from our grand opening on September 8, 2012, Clusi Batusi became somewhat of a magical place for many people. It was a home, a go-to, a daily routine, a place to celebrate special occasions, a place where memorable occasions happened, and above all, where good food was always on the table.

I am definitely not the type to gush about much in general, but my boyfriend of five years is quite extraordinary. Chef Michele Gargani. A unique character that grew up among the cypress lined hills of Tuscany. A dude who immerses himself in watching UFC fights, a guy who takes the stage at karaoke Blu and falls asleep on the floor, a man whose free time is spent cooking and studying wine and viticulture, and a human who has a heart of gold who loves to share his food with every living creature. In every ingredient he chooses, in the handling, in the combination of flavors, he puts utmost care and thought, and the result as you know is quite alchemical. Somehow, just putting the ingredients together and cooking it the same way he seems to, doesn't yield the same results.

Many people over the past two years have told us that they have had some of the best meals of their life at Clusi Batusi. From a simple Marinara pizza to the famous Bolognese to the more fine-dining dishes that were served during the exclusive Clusi Nights, all sorts of culinary pleasures seem to linger on the memory of everyone's palate. Perhaps those flavors will be recalled with such delight and longing, when one finds that it is quite difficult to find the equivalent that satisfies the taste buds in the same manner. Michele is a true chef, and his food will definitely be missed. Thanks to him for the eye-opening flavors and simply great dishes that were shared among us. And to the brothers from Yucatan, Luis and Randy, for being the most loyal, hardworking sidekicks for the whole duration.

Another important person to whom Clusi Batusi owes its immense grace, is Cathy, Michele's mother, manager, bookkeeper and the master of desserts alongside so much more that we had no idea was being kept in lines to keep the restaurant going. Though Michele and I did cause much headache for her at times or vice versa, being kids and a mother instead of being rational business partners, we did get through, we all did our best figuring out our first-time business, and our toughest times will only become stories to be recalled with much laughter and tenderness over great food and glasses of wine. Thank you for putting up and pulling through with all of us Cathy. Your desserts shall be remembered.

From building out an empty space with bare apparatus and concrete, to making a cozy Italian dining place for neighbors, workers, food-lovers and regulars, Clusi Batusi was a labor of love. Though our closing was unexpectedly abrupt, our thoughts--as it always has on a daily basis--extend to every customer and worker who has stepped inside Clusi. We remember how you liked your chopped salad and your custom pizza. We remember how your family grew or at times, separated, and subtle changes occurred in relationships. We knew we'd probably never see some of you that have come by, quit or went travelling abroad, and the thoughts go on. As for myself I recall the small details, contrasted against the backdrop of the kitchen, ablaze with heat and nervous tension. Like the beautiful watch a man was wearing that had a skeletal watch face wherein the mesmerizing clockwork stoically ticked time, or the quivering wings of the small puffy fabric butterfly on the mini-backpack of someone's two year old daughter as she toddled with a piece of mozzarella between her fingers. Many things big and small will be missed and everyone strange and familiar will be in our thoughts for a lasting time.

Michele will be moving on to his next endeavor in Paso Robles in the near future, where he plans to open one of his dream restaurants cooking rustic flavorful food and working with local farmers. We will be around in the neighborhood until then, so we hope to see you once again. Perhaps to share food at the same table this time or have a drink and get to know one another better. 

Thank you for your love and support for our restaurant.

All the warmest and best wishes to you.

Clusi Batusi