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Downtown LA's Alma to Close at End of October

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Lawsuits, crowdfunding, and the loss of a star.

Alma, Downtown
Alma, Downtown
Elizabeth Daniels
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Ari Taymor and Ashleigh Parsons’ Alma, which won Bon Appetit’s coveted Best New Restaurant award in 2013 and helped refine the expectations of Downtown L.A. dining, will shutter on October 24.

The news comes by way of New York’s Grubstreet, who put up an interview with the pair detailing their decision to shutter. Mostly, of course, the reasoning comes down to money — or a lack of it — and the sort of unwillingness to bend on their ideals that made them a national name in the first place.

Basically, Taymor says, Alma was being forced to become something less than holistically sustainable (less money makes it harder to properly source the sort of foods they wanted, and it also forced a leaner staff to work themselves to the bone). It’s also worth noting that their lawsuit with former business associate Michael Price is not necessarily over, just because the restaurant itself will cease to exist.

The most troubling part for many — beyond the loss of one of Los Angeles' most well-received tasting menu options — may well be the crowdsourcing campaign that launched just back in June. The plan at that time was to raise $40,000 in hopes of staving off this very moment, with one Indiegogo $25,000 donation benchmark that would have let a pair of customers dine at the restaurant for free for life.

Assuming someone had ponied up the cash (Alma went on to raise $48,000), they’d be getting a pretty bad return on their investment right now. It's worth noting, however, that Taymor says with any future projects they have in the works, they'll do their best to accommodate those funders who may feel left out with Alma's closure.

Overall, the loss of Alma is a serious one for not just Downtown, but Los Angeles as a whole. Perhaps the city still isn’t ready for the sort of higher-concept tasting menu format restaurants that dot other fine food cities like New York — and perhaps it never will be. But losing a restaurant of Alma’s caliber, regardless of format, will always hurt.

Alma at the Standard

8300 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069 323-822-3131