clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Biggest LA Restaurant News Stories in 2019

From Popeyes sandwiches, to dumplings in Alhambra, to health department closures

Pantry Front
Pantry Cafe, Downtown Los Angeles
Matthew Kang
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

As a restaurant year in Los Angeles, 2019 is best described as a roller coaster ride. Retail and restaurant complexes became established throughout the city, along with a surge of smaller restaurants like Spoon & Pork and Yang’s Kitchen making waves.

2019 also saw Tartine’s massive Manufactory unexpected shut down, the closure of the 60-year-old Corky’s in Sherman Oaks, and an anti-gentrification trend surrounding coffee in South LA. Eater has compiled the year’s biggest restaurant stories from across Los Angeles in the past year, from Popeyes fried chicken sandwich madness to breweries trash-talking the Dodgers.

#12 Woman destroys car at Popeyes

Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich.
Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich

When Popeyes’ immensely popular fried chicken sandwich made its return in late 2019, people went a bit crazy for it. At a Popeyes drive-thru on La Brea and Jefferson, a woman heavily damaged her car while trying to nab what’s likely the most expensive sandwich she’s ever purchased.

#11 Alfred Coffee bans now LA Clipper Kawhi Leonard

Alfred Coffee
Alfred Coffee
Alfred Coffee [official]

When NBA’s Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers over the Lakers last July, the busy social media account for Alfred Coffee put out an outright ban for both Kawhi and new teammate Paul George “from all Alfred locations.” It went as well as one would expect.

#10 The “Fyre Fest” of Barbecue

Moo’s Craft Barbecue
Barbecue plate in LA
Clay Larsen

Disgruntled ticket holders took to the internet to blast the LA Beer and World Barbecue Festival. The Chinatown event had a delayed start, hours-long lines, not enough staff, and heavy overcrowding, leaving online commenters calling it the “Fyre Festival of food events in Los Angeles.” As one attendee put it, “I’d like to thank Ja Rule and Billy McFarland for putting this event together...”

#9 Fire at Lucky Boy’s in Pasadena

Breakfast Burrito at Lucky Boy, served in a cardboard box next to chili cheese fries.
Lucky Boy
Wonho Frank Lee

In January, a kitchen fire knocked out Lucky Boy Pasadena’s famous Arroyo Parkway address. The damage could have been much worse, with only a scorched hood and burned-out griddles. Lucky Boy wasn’t closed for long, leaving Los Angeles to back to getting one of its favorite breakfast burritos.

#8 Alhambra’s You Kitchen

You Kitchen dumplings
You Kitchen
Frank Wonho Lee

A tiny dumpling restaurant opened in early 2019, and plenty wanted to know more about You Kitchen. Eater LA published a story on this little Alhambra gem in February, where diners are greeted with a touch screen ordering kiosk. The best part is, it’s right next to a bowling alley.

#7 Mango dessert shop Hui Lau Shan

Person holds bowl of fresh pureed mango, mango ice cream, tapioca balls, and fresh mango.
Mango dessert from Hui Lau Shan
Kristie Hang

Eater LA’s seventh biggest story from 2019 was the opening of Hong Kong’s famous dessert shop Hui Lau Shan in Irvine. The Orange County opening is only the start of Hui Lau Shan’s California expansion, with plans to eventually expand into the greater Los Angeles area and San Diego.

#6 Angel City Brewery talks trash about the Dodgers

It’s not clear what Angel City Brewery hoped to accomplish, but its social media manager dissed the Dodgers on Instagram last August. Communities on Reddit and Instagram dragged the Arts District brewery, forcing Angel City to apologize: “Sorry for the poor attempt at a joke at all. We love our Dodgers and were trying to be self-deprecating. We know they’re picking up that trophy this year!” Turns out the Dodgers didn’t even make the World Series this year.

#5 Man punched for racist slurs at sushi restaurant

On Mother’s Day at Aburi Premium AYCE Sushi in Long Beach, a man demanded a table, making misogynistic remarks towards staff, insulting other customers, and then adding racist remarks. An intense video shows a female diner confronting the man and then repeatedly hitting him before he was pushed out of the restaurant.

#4 How the “dine-and-dash dater” got caught

Paul Gonzales, also known as the dine-and-dash dater, was sentenced to 120 days in jail for asking women out to dinner then quietly leaving the restaurant before paying the bill.

#3 Four Beverly Hills restaurants closed by health department

Four prominent Beverly Hills restaurants were temporarily shut down after health inspections. The longstanding Grill on the Alley, Il Fornaio, Gratitude, and Tempura Endo were cited and closed for various reasons either on October 8 or 9, though all have since reopened.

#2 Pantry Cafe shut down by health department

The Original Pantry Cafe in Downtown, Los Angeles
Original Pantry Cafe
Matthew Kang

Whether it’s the end of a business, or whether forced by the LA County Department of Public Health, it’s always sad news to hear about any restaurant closure. Downtown’s “never closed” Original Pantry Cafe did so last week. Open for the past 95 years, the diner has maintained a clean bill of health for most of its tenure. This recent closure was only temporary, but the restaurant initially told customers they were closed for “renovations” and to decorate for the holiday season.

#1 The return of the Michelin Guide

Michelin star winners in Huntington Beach
Michelin star winners in Huntington Beach
Eater San Diego

After nearly a ten-year absence, the Michelin Guide returned to Los Angeles. And this time, it wasn’t just LA, but the entire state of California. Though beloved LA restaurants like n/naka, Providence, and Taco Maria received recognition from the Michelin inspectors, they did not designate three stars to restaurants outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.