Welcome to One Month In, a regular feature in which Eater catches up with hot restaurants that have only been open for about a month. Here now, Pine & Crane Noodle Co. in Silver Lake.
Moonlynn Tsai and Vivian Ku
Vivian Ku and Moonlynn Tsai opened Pine & Crane, a lovely Taiwanese eatery in the heart of Silver Lake in late March. Open for just over a month, the place has been much busier than anticipated, with certain events packed to the gills. Eater chats with Ku about the restaurant's first few weeks, how they've handled the crush of diners, and what they're going to continue to adjust as the months go by.
How's the opening been for you personally? It's been every repeat every single day. There's definitely a lot of excitement. Everyone's really tired, but there are a lot of happy faces and a lot of encouragement from the neighborhood.
About how many people are you seeing on average per day? I don't have have an exact figure. I would say about 200 people a day, perhaps 170-230 is the range, so somewhere around there.
What's been the busiest time of the week? Sunday nights. On Mother's Day we knew it was going to be busy, but last Sunday was the craziest ever. Sunday night, people are looking to eat somewhere local because the next is Monday. Friday and Saturdays haven't been as busy as we thought. Weekdays are busier than weekends. On weekends we do have more people that come from farther distances, but weekdays are mostly locals.
What's been the hottest dish so far? The dan dan noodles. All of the dishes have been selling well, but the wontons, beef roll, scallion pancakes have been selling the best.
How has the reaction been from Asian clientele who are looking for something more traditional? It's been great to meet people and get their reactions. It's been really satisfying to get their approval. We get diners who can't even speak English, so they have to order in Mandarin.
When will you be getting beer & wine? We just got off phone with ABC and we're super bummed because someone protested the license. We're probably not going to get it for another 4-6 months. We went through planning, got approval from the neighborhood council, with plenty of neighbors in support. It's disappointing but maybe this is a blessing in disguise because now we can figure out how to make the restaurant work without alcohol. The guests are still happy but I feel bad because people want to have beer to complement the food, or have drinks to celebrate special occasions.
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels
Because it's order at the counter and then get a number for service, what happens when someone orders and there's no seating? We hadn't thought that far about it initially. We didn't realize we were going to be this busy. I didn't think it was going to be a problem, but in the first week of service, we started making a note on the check if the dining room is full. That way, the kitchen will hover and wait for more seats to open up for dishes get fired. It slows down the process, but we want to make sure that no food comes out before diners get seated.
Are you ever going to change to full service? I'm really in love with having faster counter service with better quality. The deli case, the register, and the concept are all made for this kind of service, so it's hard to change now. Once summer comes around, people can do takeout.
What about more patio seats? The plaza outside is a public space so we can't serve anyone there. People can take the takeout orders outside and enjoy in the mini-park.
What about delivery? We haven't thought much about delivery. We didn't even have phone orders at first because it would have compromised the experience for seated diners. But we got a lot of feedback and decided to take phone orders. As for delivery, we're taking baby steps because we just don't have the manpower or kitchen capabilities to handle it.
· All Pine & Crane Coverage [~ELA~]