In 1991 Tami Bennett opened Mo Better Burger Meaty Meat by building out the beloved Meaty Meat Burgers, which was a size of a shoebox. She was a financial planner to the stars and was looking to balance her portfolio with some cash flow. "Mo Better" was added to "Meaty Meat" because Spike Lee's 1990 film was such an influence in the community.
During the L.A. Riots Mo Better Meaty Meat burgers remained open and continued to serve food. It didn't get burned down, but instead became a community hub where folks shared news. After the riots, Tami Bennett quit her valuable financial advisor gig, fell in love with the restaurant business, and always worked the line. Tami's love of her customers is palpable even today.
In 1998, Bennett sold the business because her fiancé wanted her to ease up, and they really needed a break.
After a decade hiatus, Bennett became LA's first burger pop-up and took hold at Indulge Cafe in early 2008. However, the partnership didn't last long, and Indulge shuttered in November of that year. But the seed had been replanted, especially after she saw Magic Johnson ordering and waiting for his own burgers. After years of watching her beloved business trail off in both popularity and quality, Bennett wanted back in, and wanted to come back to her neighborhood in a big way.
So she opened across Umami Burger's original location on La Brea in 2012.
This time, she brought on help. Her daughter Eve Fouché had been traveling the world after graduating with a sociology degree. Both Tami and Eve Fouché were life long vegetarians. Fouché was well aware of global "foodism" issues but wasn't sure of the duality between a beefy burger joint and her own personal food beliefs. Until old customers started crying in front of her. They missed the burgers, and the sense of community. They were encouraged to see Mo Better re-open in the old neighborhood.
Inspired, Fouché got to work. She cooperated with Michael Beckwith, a family friend and a vegan, for the signature vegan "Beckwith taco". Since the fall of Mo Better Meaty Meat Burger, turkey burgers have become de rigueur in most South L.A. burger shacks, and here at the revived Mo Better, they now tie beef burgers for sales. Fouché also switched the beef patties to non-hormone beef and began sourcing cage-free eggs.
Always an "activist", she went as far as using grass-fed beef, but realized the pricing was beyond the reach of the community. These days, Fouché, a community gardener, is at peace with her restaurant and its fresh ingredients. She hustles the vegan taco at the register, and plans on expanding with a full salad menu.
Next up for the restaurant are two major events: Mo Better Burger is growing. They'll double their space in the next few months, despite running a tight kitchen with one griddle and a fryer. The team promises the same attention to detail which makes their burgers stand out. Surely the soulfulness will not be lost as well.
A little bit more than two years in and after standing up to the massive Umami empire, Bennett has grand thoughts. She wants to open a thousand more Mo Betters; retiring is not an option because the return has been "beautiful". Plus, notable celebrities Tone Loc, El DeBarge, Kerry Washington, Ella Joyce, Richard Lawson, and Magic himself all need to get their burger on somewhere.
Mo Better Burgers
901 S La Brea Ave #2
Los Angeles, CA 90036