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Here’s What Really Happens When a Restaurant Fails

Plus more pasta for Santa Monica, and more coffee for WeHo

AR Cucina
AR Cucina
AR Cucina
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.

The slow decline of Sambar

Restaurant Hospitality shares a behind-the-scenes look at what went wrong with Sambar, Akasha Richmond’s failed Indian restaurant in Culver City. It’s a unique take on what it really means to close a restaurant and reopen, the money involved, and how sometimes turning a corner can be more profitable (in more ways than one) for everyone involved.

Per the piece, Richmond and her investors consider Sambar to be an “art film” sort of restaurant, the kind of place that critics enjoyed but ultimately proved financially unfeasible. So when the hard news came down that Sambar would need to close, Richmond turned to more familiar Italian fare — but it had to be quick. In order to not be sidelined by the health department the flip would need to happen in under 30 days, which is why AR Cucina cropped up out of seemingly nowhere.

Go give the whole thing a read if you’ve got time. It’s a pretty stark behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to stay viable as a business owner, particularly in sometimes-tough areas like high-rent downtown Culver City. Plus the piece has a happy ending, in that AR Cucina seems, by all accounts, to be making the kind of money that Sambar could not.

Osteria Bigoli steps in

Looks like more pasta for Santa Monica, as Osteria Bigoli is now spinning spaghetti onto forks along Montana Avenue. That’s according to Toddrickallen, who previously tipped off the world that prior tenant Vincenzo had vacated back in October. The new Osteria Bigoli does the usual slew of veal meatballs, pastas, risotto, and larger meat cuts.

Smith & Tait serves up West Hollywood

Have you had the chance to check out Smith & Tait yet? The newer West Hollywood coffee option soft opened last month and features beans from Ritual Coffee Roasters, all served up inside a tiny sub-300 square foot space off Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s actually tucked away on Huntley Drive around the corner, in a basement setup with a little retail wall and a bench outside for easy drinking. Mostly though this is a takeaway stop, with the same aesthetics you’d expect from your other local neighborhood sit down favorites. 866 Huntley Drive, West Hollywood.

come get your sunday fix! . . . #smithandtait #coffee #lamarzocco #fb80 #sundayvibes #damnfine #damnfinecoffee

A photo posted by Smith & Tait (@smithandtait) on

More ramen for Pasadena

There’s even more ramen noodle deliciousness in Pasadena these days, as Zabon Ramen Bar is now open at 61 S. Fair Oaks Avenue. The casual spot quietly opened last month working a variety of ramens from tsukemen on down, with sides and add-ons to match.

Trash Tiki at Harvard & Stone

In for a big night tonight? Try checking out Harvard & Stone’s Trash Tiki, as led by Londoners Iain Griffiths and Kelsey Ramage. The idea is to bring food waste to the forefront of the cocktail discussion, so they’ll be teaming up with Aaron Polsky and Winsome (who will be providing some of the unused extras) for some drinks. The party kicks off at 9:30 p.m. tonight.

Veggie Grill goes Beyond Meat

With a ton of locations across Southern California, Veggie Grill is a leader in the plant-based dining ecosystem. That makes their push to bring the Beyond Burger (one of those meatless ground beef imitations that cooks and tastes like the real thing) to each of their 28 locations all the more important, especially for vegetarians who want the guilt-free experience of indulging with a classic SoCal style burger every once in a while. The full roll-out to every location goes down on Wednesday, December 14.

Katie’s Bakery takes over Pasadena

There’s a new name in Pasadena sweets, and that name is Katie’s Bakery. Working an entirely gluten-free menu, the upstart option at 11 W. Dayton Street recently got the big-scissor treatment from the city of Pasadena, and is now keeping hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., every day but Sunday.