A major strip of Silver Lake is headed for some serious transition, and Flore Vegan restaurant is at the center of the struggle.
Engine Real Estate recently bought the property that houses the 13-year-old plant-based restaurant, and only this week served Flore with a 30-day notice to vacate. The restaurant had been operating on a month-to-month lease for some time, but had been hoping to stay in their current home long term. Meanwhile, Engine is touting itself as a change agent for many of the communities in which it operates, stating on its website that the company’s primary goal is “gentrifying neighborhoods of Los Angeles, such as Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Highland Park.”
Owner Miranda Megill actually leases two spaces on the 3800 block of Sunset: the retail shop Le Pink & Company, and Flore Vegan. Megill’s longstanding presence on Sunset between Hyperion and Lucille predates most of the new guard of restaurants in central Silver Lake, including Sawyer, 33 Taps, and the already-closed California Sun.
In May, Megill began talks with her previous landlord to negotiate a new lease, and was assured of the renewal at an in-person meeting. She was also informed that her landlord — Aviano LLC — was in the process of refinancing, and couldn’t renew leases at that time.
In the same month, Aviano LLC received an ADA complaint about Flore’s bathroom, and required Megill to make it ADA compliant. She paid $2,500 out of pocket for the expense. After completing the bathroom work, Megill says her landlord went silent as she continued to ask for a lease renewal, and was told to wait for the building’s refinance, which would likely occur in August.
Megill remained in a holding pattern until late October, when the property manager shared that the building was in escrow. She reached out to Aviano for contact information from the new owners, the Venice-based Engine Real Estate. According to Megill, no one responded, that is until yesterday’s receipt of the notice to vacate. Megill requested and received only a slight an extension, which leaves Flore open until January 31.
It appears that Engine Real Estate will rework and re-tenant the entire building, while leaning into its gentrification ethos. According to Megill, the company is even marketing the vacancies before existing tenants have moved out. Neighboring businesses Matrushka and Ragg Mopp will remain for another year under previous lease agreements.
Flore’s pending closure is only one of the endless gentrification stories throughout Los Angeles, and few areas are immune. Longstanding neighborhood restaurants are at the whim of landlords asking for higher rents, and developers who often push out familiar tenants and in some cases even co-opting their name on the way out the door. The issue is pervasive across Los Angeles not only on the retail but also the residential side, with gentrification fears extending well beyond Silver Lake and into Boyle Heights, South LA, Highland Park, and elsewhere.
Eater reached out to Engine Real Estate for comment, and so far has not not yet heard back.
Megill states that moving Flore and Le Pink is impossible. “It’s not affordable as a mom and pop. I opened it in 2007. (Engine) didn’t even speak with me at all. Most landlords would appreciate keeping my business there, but they have a completely different goal to position (the building) like an Abbot Kinney corridor with Doc Martens.”
This is a developing story.
UPDATE 4:36 p.m.: Engine Real Estate removed the gentrification description from its website, along with all photos involving the Silver Lake property.
Flore Vegan. 3818 Sunset Blvd, Silver Lake, CA