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Jeremy Fox Explains Tallulas’ Rocky First Five Months in Heartfelt Instagram Post

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Fox confesses the Mexican restaurant didn’t open on the right foot

Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Chef Jeremy Fox detailed Tallula's early struggles in an Instagram post today. Fox partnered with Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb to open the Mexican-inspired restaurant in May in Santa Monica.

In a two-part Instagram post, Fox tenderly shared the inspiration behind Tallula’s: “...a big, loud, funky, neighborhood place just off the beach.” The restaurant was meant to stoke nostaglia for owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan. As children, they used to walk to this very place for meals. According to Fox, they created Tallula’s for a new generation of locals to create fond memories.

Fox humbly detailed problems that began with an ambitious opening at the same time as his cookbook tour. There were other factors that contributed to a rough opening: a fast four-month renovation, early service issues, and high check average. In addition, they had a difficult time conveying the quality and preparation that goes into the modern Mexican cooking. Fox says that they’ve made changes since then, and invites customers to come in and experience the food anew.

Nathan and Loeb are the powerhouse behind the Rustic Canyon Restaurant Group, which includes Cassia, Milo & Olive, Huckleberry Cafe, and the Sweet Rose Creamery. Tallula’s is named after Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb’s daughter.

1 of 2 Tallula’s, quite honestly, got off to a rough start. We were beaten up early from several angles. We had a some reviews that were hard to read at points, but also pretty accurate at the time. Did I think I was the kind of chef who could go on a cookbook tour and return two days before the grand opening? I hoped that it was true, but it wasn't. The truth is we weren't ready, and at times I’ve felt like a parent watching their kid get beat up on the playground. We allowed ourselves to be too busy too fast, and were not able to give everyone the best first experience they deserved. We weren't able to fully tell the story of what Tallula's is. But now we are. So what is Tallula’s about? It has been an interesting journey to get to the point where any of us could answer this question. First of all, Tallula’s is not an authentic Mexican restaurant. We are a big, loud, funky, neighborhood place just off the beach, in a building that still looks like the Japanese restaurant it once was 35 years ago. This is the same location that my partners/friends Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan used to walk to for dinner as kids when it was Marix Tex-Mex. They dreamed about how cool it would be to take this place that held such great memories, and help create new memories for a new generation. Tallula’s is not a place for canned sauces, factory-farmed meats, or anonymous commodity produce. Everything is made from scratch: dried chilies are seeded, charred, soaked and blended into more sauces and pastes than I can even keep track of. Chicken is organic, beef is grass-fed, produce is from local farms, and beans, rice & masa used for our handmade tortillas are 100% organic... Tallula’s is not cheap. When everything is organic, our costs more than double. These are the same products that our sister restaurants use. No cutting corners. I wish that our prices could be as low as a thousand other places, but that’s just not possible if we want to only serve ingredients we are proud of. What Tallula’s is about can be summed up best by the words painted on the side of the building: HECHO CON AMOR, or “made with love.”....continued in next post...

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