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Kaya Street Kitchen’s Closure on Fairfax Makes For a Cautionary Business Tale

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The company hoped to add 100 locations in five years

Kaya Street Kitchen
Kaya Street Kitchen
Kaya Street Kitchen [official]
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.

Fairfax’s Kaya Street Kitchen has closed, bringing to an end one of LA’s odder failed franchise stories. The company had talked openly about achieving massive growth in the Southern California market and beyond in just a few short years, but now has ceased to be completely.

First, some backstory. Kaya Street Kitchen first opened in late 2014 amidst a wave of fast casual Southeast Asian restaurants, including (at the time) Chipotle’s own ShopHouse Asian Kitchen. The thought was that inexpensive build-your-own bowls and burritos tinged with Thai, Indonesian, and in some cases Korean flavors could be the answer to rising rents and higher wage costs, leading big companies to jump on the train and start making big proclamations about growth.

That’s certainly what happened with Kaya Street Kitchen after the CEO of Japanese publicly-traded restaurant company Toridoll walked in. As told to Eater back in 2015, the CEO liked the food and offered Kaya’s owners a deal on the spot to take over majority control in exchange for a ton of cash and the promise of incredible expansion. Like, 100 storefronts in five years incredible.

There was a quick flip of a former Toridoll restaurant space down in Orange County’s Aliso Viejo and bright hope for the future, but ultimately Kaya never caught on with a wider, non-local audience. The Orange County location closed first, followed by Kaya Street Kitchen’s original outpost on Fairfax sometime around the first of this month. Now the dream of 100 locations in half a decade is dead, with nothing left behind but the following note on the company’s Instagram page: “Now closed. Thanks for letting us serve you!”