Rivera, which opened in a sleek ground floor space a block away from Staples Center back in 2009, helped prelude the insane dining resurrection in Downtown Los Angeles. According to a tipster, the restaurant is closing down in the near future, bringing chef John Sedlar's comeback to an end. The influential chef, who helped change the culinary landscape in L.A. in the late 80s and early 90s with Saint Estephe, Bikini, and Abiquiu, had left the local dining scene for nearly two decades to write cookbooks and consult other restaurants.
Sedlar is instead moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, his hometown, to open a new Southwest eatery called ELOISA. Named after his grandmother, who was born in the town of Abiquiu, the restaurant will be located along Santa Fe's historic Palace Avenue. Says the chef on the move:
"I'm thrilled to be returning to my family's very deep, multigenerational roots in northern New Mexico...ELOISA will be a celebration of everything I learned from my grandma, and an homage to the abuelas, tias, madres, and hermanas de la cocina, combined with my own experiences as a contemporary Latin chef."
However, this doesn't mean Sedlar is done with Los Angeles. He plans to announce yet another concept slated for L.A. some time in early 2015.
Sedlar returned to form in 2009 with the pan-Latin Rivera, which earned a rarefied three-and-a-half star review from S. Irene Virbila at the LA Times. Mixologist Julian Cox helped establish Rivera as a key cocktail program in the city, training numerous bartenders who went on to create their own menus around town. Sedlar later opened Playa in the former Grace location on Beverly Blvd, only to succumb a two years later. Co-owner Bill Chait flipped that quickly into Petty Cash Taqueria with Walter Manzke.
Rivera also helped establish Bill Chait as a major player in the Los Angeles restaurant scene, after Chait had spent years developing Louise's Trattoria and Spark Woodfire Grill. Chait went on to establish everything from Picca and Bestia to Barrel & Ashes to the soon-to-open Redbird at the Vibiana Cathedral.
What will happen to Sedlar's legacy in Los Angeles after Rivera closes by year's end? With places like Cosme and Alex Stupak's Empellon in NYC capturing critical attention, how will a chef who's championed the higher end of Latin cuisine in Los Angeles be remembered?