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Australian Guy Behind Ripoff Restaurant Howlin’ Jay’s Just Ate at Howlin’ Ray’s

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James Burman make the trek

James Burman of Howlin’ Jay’s fame
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.

Here’s an odd one: The man behind apparent Cairns, Australia ripoff restaurant Howlin’ Jay’s was traveling through Los Angeles last week, and he even made a stop at Howlin’ Ray’s while in town. That’s right: The man who seems to have copied the Howlin’ Ray’s aesthetic, menu, and (mostly) name across the ocean to open his own place actually stopped in to the Chinatown shop and smiled it up with the employees.

A tipster sends in the above photo of Howlin’ Ray’s owner Johnny Ray Zone standing next to James Burman, the man who identified himself happily as the owner of Howlin’ Jay’s. Howlin’ Ray’s staff and even Zone started some good-natured ribbing, but none of it apparently fazed Burman, who smiled through the whole meal at the counter.

To be fair, the Zones don’t seem to be all that fazed, either. Howlin’ Ray’s still enjoys massively long lines (particularly on weekends) as they gear up for a big Chinatown expansion and 2018 jump to a second location in Culver City, and potentially beyond. As for Burman, no word on whether or not he checked out a few of the other Los Angeles restaurants he’s sampled signage from over the years, including Alfred Coffee and EP & LP.