Did someone secretly open a knock-off Scratch Bar in Beverly Hills? Amazingly, yes.
Last week, chef Phillip Frankland Lee dropped news that, effective immediately, he was closing up the La Cienega restaurant that he opened back in 2013, with hopes to turn the place around in some other location. The LA Times went so far as to quote Lee in saying that the restaurant was nearing the end of its lease, and the timing was right for a change of venue.
For some quick backstory: Scratch Bar, to Lee at least, is not just another restaurant — formerly it was a pop-up at Tiago Coffee (and, for a time, out of Lee's own apartment). That is to say, he's partial to the name and the concept.
Fast forward to yesterday, when a tipster writes in to say that not only is there a Scratch Bar restaurant still operating at the La Cienega address in Beverly Hills, but there’s been an about-face in the kitchen. A call to the restaurant confirms that they’re up and running, with staffers telling customers that there’s a "new chef" at the helm — one Daryoush Danesh, Lee’s longtime (former?) partner in the Scratch Bar space.
Just to make things weirder, Danesh's name also appears on the ABC license for The Gadarene Swine, Lee's other restaurant in Studio City, meaning that, in paperwork at least, they're still running at least one restaurant together.
Danesh is the longtime holder of the lease to the Scratch Bar space, and apparently had laid out plans to reopen the eatery as something more Mediterranean in the coming weeks. But with Scratch Bar shuttering in the middle of dineLA week, perhaps he thought it best to stick around for a few more days instead so as to siphon off some customers? It would certainly be an oddly shrewd choice — and one Lee is likely entirely unaware of — but that wouldn't go so far as to explain the entire rebrand of the restaurant, which includes a new website and Instagram account.
So... what's next? It's unlikely that two competing Scratch Bar restaurants will continue to exist (one operating out of the old space, at that) once Lee gets his new location up and running. Maybe we'll all have a bit more insight after dineLA week dies off? Who knows.
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