Eater LA has heard from a source that Chego, Roy Choi's inimitable rice bowl operation, is partnering up with none other than the new Downtown Los Angeles Whole Foods to bring even more bowls to the city's urban core.
The surprising news actually makes a lot of sense when broken down into its various parts. First, Chego: Choi and his team have been eager to expand the Chego franchise essentially since the bowl spot first relocated from Palms to Chinatown. It's a popular, well-managed brand that is certainly able to scale with ease.
Second, Whole Foods DTLA. After a protracted build-out on Grand Avenue, it's no surprise that the grocer would want to make a splash by announcing a local partnership with a beloved eatery the very day that they open to the world. And it's becoming more and more clear that partnering with local names for in-store vendor build-outs is part of the strategy moving forward, as evidenced by the recent news of a minority stake investment in Southern California sandwich-makers Mendocino Farms earlier this month.
And third, everyone who lives and works Downtown. Grain bowls have proven to be massively popular as an easy lunch option, fast casual dinner play, or for something on the late night spectrum that's meant to soak up a lot of booze. Everyone from Orsa & Winston (daytime weekdays only) to Charles Olalia at Rice Bar is all-in on the bowl game, so adding a known commodity to the busy DTLA core (and in a brand-new building that will also be able to pour beer and wine) is a no-brainer.
Details are still coming together on how Chego DTLA will format itself — word is they've adjusted some recipes and ingredients to adhere to Whole Foods's standards — but regardless this is big news for anyone who spends time in that stretch of the city. And it also sounds like a win-win-win for all the major players involved.