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Is Gjelina’s Chef Opening a Pastrami Sandwich Shop in West Adams?

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Construction is underway, and sources say yes

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The old facade for Johnny’s Pastrami in West Adams, Los Angeles.
Johnny’s Pastrami, under construction
Farley Elliott
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.

Just what is Travis Lett possibly up to? Word on the street is the Gjelina/Gjusta chef and owner has picked up a pretty prominent piece of restaurant real estate far east of his home in Venice: The former Johnny’s Pastrami in historic West Adams.

Drive by the old Johnny’s walk-up stand on West Adams Boulevard these days, and expect a lot of construction going on behind rumpled blue tarps. The place has basically been peeled back to the studs, and even the landscape around the building is getting a total remake. And while there’s no official signage or visible paperwork showing Lett’s name anywhere, whispers are that it’s him.

Eater has independently heard from two well-placed sources that Lett is indeed involved with the property, with one indicating that Lett will be doing sandwiches, including a take on the famous Johnny’s pastrami that survived for decades before closing at the end of 2015. The Gjelina team has not responded to multiple requests over the past month to confirm the news themselves.

Johnny’s pastrami
Some signage remains

So is Lett really moving to West Adams? It seems more than likely, though still just a rumor as of now. The timing would certainly make sense, given the vast array of changes coming to the broader South LA area right now, and with Lett having put the long-delayed opening of his Venice izakaya MTN in the rearview, finally. Know more on what’s to come down in West Adams? Hit the tip line, anonymity always guaranteed.

Johnny’s Pastrami. 4331 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA.