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LA Weekly Confirms Plans to Move Forward With Big Annual Essentials Food Event

The embattled media company’s previous Sips & Sweets party was hit with a boycott

Eaters enjoying a food festival
Paul Bartunek
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.

Beleaguered local alternative paper LA Weekly is moving ahead with plans for its annual marquee food event known as The Essentials, despite sustained pressure from some online regarding the publication’s recently-installed ownership team.

To recap: Late last year, LA Weekly laid off nearly its entire staff after being acquired by a previously-unknown group operating under the name Semanal Media. While some of the people involved in the new ownership group are still anonymous, those that have been publicly named — including managing editor Brian Calle — hail from Orange County and have been found to occasionally offer up conservative viewpoints, including donations to a slew of Republican campaigns. That has put fired former LA Weekly staffers and readers on edge, particularly given the publication’s historically left-leaning agenda, and led to a round of very public, and sometimes hostile, calls for boycotts and an ultimate sale.

Several of the the Weekly’s former writers have been taking to platforms like Twitter to engage fans in sustained pressure campaigns against advertisers, new LA Weekly contributors, and event participants. Earlier this year, those same writers successfully launched an effort to get the paper’s Sips & Sweets party cancelled altogether by pressuring restaurants to pull out of the ticketed event less than two weeks before it was slated to take place.

A shot from last year’s Essentials party
YouTube/LA Weekly

Now it looks as though LA Weekly, led in part by new food editor Michele Stueven, is planning to forge ahead with their marquee Essentials event. In years past, the Essentials party was a way for then food critic Besha Rodell to showcase her annual published list of the most important restaurants in Los Angeles. This year, according to a press release Eater has seen for the event, the Essentials list and participating event restaurants will be “curated by our acclaimed food writers.”

A Ticketfly page for the March 25 evening affair is already live, and shows the party scheduled to take place at the California Market Center on Ninth Street. Listed restaurant participants include Eataly, Animal, Woodspoon, The Mar Vista, and Park’s BBQ, among others. Some shown on the event’s landing page as confirmed — names like Gracias Madre, Hinoki & The Bird, and Kato — have separately told Eater that they won’t, in fact, be serving at the event. Expect more names to be announced between now and the March event, while tickets (ranging from $50 to $95 a head) are on sale now.