Just weeks before LA Weekly’s marquee food event, The Essentials, is set to take place, a handful of prominent restaurants have begun pulling out over the enduring boycott of the famed alt-weekly’s new ownership. Guerrilla Tacos, Petty Cash Taqueria, and Hungry Cat are among the restaurateurs no longer participating.
The annual Essentials event takes place in Downtown on March 25 and is meant to coincide with the paper’s best restaurant list, but this year’s party has been marred by relatively low participation from many prominent restaurants. The issue stems from an ongoing online boycott campaign against the Weekly, after it was sold off last year to Orange County backers who promptly fired almost the entire staff. The new ownership group has still declined to name all of its investors or discuss much about their politics and plans for the paper moving forward, leading to several former writers and others to launch an official anti-LA Weekly website aimed at getting the paper to sell to a different, more transparent, group.
The boycott team’s most recent efforts have focused on a phone and email campaign to restaurants and advertisers participating in the upcoming Essentials event, in the hopes of convincing everyone to distance themselves and keep the party from taking place at all. Eater has confirmed that Guerrilla Tacos, Petty Cash Taqueria, and The Hungry Cat will not be participating, nor will chef D. Brandon Walker’s restaurant The Mar Vista. Others are still considering their involvement, while names like Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken and Catch have confirmed that they will be in attendance at the March 25 event.
Last week, newly installed food editor Michele Stueven told Eater that no restaurants had dropped out and that the event was “full steam ahead,” but that seems to at least have partially changed in recent days thanks to a slew of calls and emails to the restaurants involved. Almost everyone who spoke to Eater admitted that they had been receiving comments from customers regarding their participation, though it’s unclear if the phone calls alone, or the greater issues behind the boycott, led the restaurants to distance themselves.