One of LA’s most popular restaurants plans to open in the View Park neighborhood of South LA, right in the former Yee’s building on Slauson. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo are hoping to open a third branch of their Italian-American restaurant Jon & Vinny’s, which first opened in 2015 on Fairfax, then followed up with a sequel in Brentwood earlier this year.
Rumors of Jon & Vinny’s opening in the neighborhood percolated on Nextdoor and other community channels, according to the LA Times, with a mix of gentrification concerns and also hopeful anticipation from locals. Eater first reported on the sale of the building to the Jon & Vinny team earlier this summer.
Eater spoke with Shook this morning, who said he felt a connection with the Yee’s building as soon as he stepped into it. Shook and Dotolo’s successful Caramelized Productions has had a facility in Inglewood for the past four and a half years, where the company produces catering and also Delta Airlines’ business class food.
Shook felt it was important that Yee’s, whose owner retired after about forty years in business, had been a part of the neighborhood for such a long time. “If you tell people that you’re going into that restaurant, they know exactly what you’re talking about,” said Shook, who was up until this point very careful to keep any information about this expansion from leaking out. He continued, “there’s something cool about that that we love,” quoting the fact that Damiano’s had operated on Fairfax for decades before the first Jon & Vinny’s, and Early World lived in Brentwood for more than 24 years.
The reason for keeping the information secretive, in his mind, was to be able to obtain the building and conditional use permits to be able to fully deliver Jon & Vinny’s in the way that he and Dotolo wanted. Local chatter seemed to anticipate Jon & Vinny’s in the Yee’s building, but just to build good will, Shook and Dotolo held a presentation this past weekend, serving pizzas, salads, and soft drinks to curious locals, answering any questions and addressing any concerns.
“We’re all just taken by how nice the people are and how excited they are to have Jon & Vinny’s come to them,” said Shook, who continued, “We have a lot of people that work for us that live down in the neighborhood...we’re hoping to find some great employees out of the neighborhood.”
Similar to the first two Jon & Vinny’s restaurants, this proposed View Park location will offer just beer and wine, plus a carry-out license from the included Helen’s wine shop that would allow locals to purchase a bottle of boutique wine to take home. The planned standalone building will feature ivy-covered walls, a patio for about 20 to 30 people, and seating for upwards of 60 inside the building, with an open kitchen and counter. The menu would also mirror the breakfast-to-dinner model at the other locations. The interior design resembles the sleek, wood-paneled look that’s become a trademark of the restaurant. A small take out window will facilitate to-go business and delivery.
Asked why they saw this particular location as an opportunity, Shook said, “I feel like neighborhoods choose you. There’s a connection that fires off, especially for Vinny and me. You have to connect with it. In LA there are very few restaurants on a corner space with a big parking lot.”
Assuming permits receive approval, Shook thinks the build out will take six to eight months, which means Jon & Vinny’s South LA is projected to open some time in summer 2020.