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Early Morning Fire Destroys Wabi Venice, One of Abbot Kinney’s Oldest Restaurants

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Wabi-Sabi in Venice has been absolutely gutted

Wabi Venice
Wabi Sabi
Wonho Frank Lee
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.

Decades-old restaurant Wabi Venice was destroyed today by an early morning fire. The pre-dawn blaze completely gutted the Abbot Kinney eatery, which has stood at the same location in changing Venice for decades.

Per the Los Angeles Fire Department, the structure fire began just before 6 a.m. and was knocked down in less than an hour, but not before causing extensive damage and briefly threatening a next-door property. The Tasting Kitchen, another popular Venice restaurant located right next to Wabi, was not affected by the fire. Video obtained by Eater of the aftermath shows a completely burned-out shell, with little left intact. No injuries were reported, and the fire is said to be electrical, though that remains unconfirmed.

Originally known as Wabi-Sabi, the longtime restaurant has been a popular home for fusion Asian cuisine over the years. Ricardo Zarate was a chef there before embarking on building his Peruvian restaurant empire. The menu has vacillated from gyoza, miso soup, and sushi to poke bowls and Korean-style short ribs in that time, but always drew a fiercely loyal local following. Just last year the restaurant underwent a massive refresh, bringing in new personnel and design elements, and even swapping the name from Wabi-Sabi to just Wabi Venice. Wabi-Sabi originally opened in 1992, with Sam Marshall and Tricia Small taking over ownership beginning in 2015.

An hour or so ago, Small posted the following note to social media regarding the blaze:

While always tragic, fires are nothing new for the restaurant industry. Legendary Los Angeles restaurant AOC suffered damage from a fire earlier this year, and Downtown’s Rossoblu only just came back from a months-long hiatus following a fire in September.

Wabi Venice. 1635 Abbot Kinney, Los Angeles, CA.

Additional reporting by Matthew Kang

Inside Wabi Venice after fire
Tricia Small