Tough news for James Beard Award winner Andy Ricker today, as the multi-city chef tells Eater exclusively that he plans to close the Chinatown outlet of his popular Pok Pok restaurant as of next Tuesday.
The troubling shutter is a stark reminder of just how tough the restaurant market in Los Angeles can be, despite the increased media attention on the city’s scene over the past year or so. Ricker had big, ambitious plans when he first opened the restaurant in October of 2015, settling into a 200-seat, multi-story space that seemed to promise a ton of legroom for his team to stretch and grow into the Los Angeles market. Add in the availability of a ton of Thai produce from down the street, and things seemed ripe for success.
Unfortunately, that was never the case. A candid Ricker told Eater last year that the restaurant had yet to turn a profit after being open for a year, and that challenges from the neighborhood, the city, and the way the place was opened continued to hamper future success. That all comes to a head next Tuesday, when the team at the restaurant will turn off the lights for good.
As for a comment, Ricker emailed in to say:
Pok Pok LA will have it's final service on Tuesday, March 21. I still hold the lease on the space and we may try hold some events here in the near future, but daily business will cease.
Bottom line is that we are not making it financially and it is not sustainable to be in this position. Our main concern at this point is to try and help place the folks on our team who have worked so hard and tried to make a solid go of it. We plan to finish strong and with dignity and maybe get to serve some of the folks who have come through on the regular one more time.
I am personally grateful to have been able to hang out in Chinatown these last few years and feel privileged that Pok Pok LA played a little part in it's recent history. It's a great neighborhood (in an amazing city) filled with history, deep culture and really cool, talented, ambitious, smart people.
With the loss of Pok Pok LA and the previous shutter of Ricker’s Phat Thai noodle concept, suddenly the city is without one of the bigger names in American cooking. His Portland and New York City locations remain open, and the Far East Plaza space Phat Thai once held is now being run by Eddie Huang and the Baohaus crew. The final night of service for Pok Pok LA is Tuesday, March 21.