With the rising costs of rent and labor, Los Angeles’s restaurants faced incredible challenges in 2019 balancing demands in every direction — from sourcing conscionable ingredients to delivering value for diners and providing living wages for staffers. Operating a restaurant is nothing short of a labor of love, and far too many dining gems were forced to close shop this year. Here now are the 15 saddest restaurant closures in 2019.
Hearth & Hound
Hearth & Hound closed at the top of the year, ending an up-and-down saga for celebrated chef April Bloomfield. The restaurant will be remembered for its connection to opening partner Ken Friedman. Just six days after the Hearth & Hound debuted, Friedman was credibly accused of sexual harassment by a number of employees.
Chef Jessica Largey and Avengers director Joe Russo’s highly-anticipated Arts District restaurant closed after less than six months following a scathing LA Times review and reports of mismanagement and infighting within the organization.
Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant
Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in East Hollywood closed after 40 years so that owner Kannan Natarajan could retire. The restaurant served South Indian dishes and was considered one of LA’s essential Indian restaurants. Natarajan gave half of the $150,000 sale of the restaurant to his longtime employees.
Good Luck Bar
Los Feliz’s 25-year-old Good Luck Bar served its final cocktail this past spring. In place of the beloved and kitschy dive bar will be a new development that is rumored to include a hotel and new restaurant. First opened in 1994 by Sean MacPherson and Jon Sidel, Good Luck Bar was one of the few remaining LA bars from the era, including Jones Hollywood and El Carmen.
Cork Bar & Grill
West Adams’s Cork Bar & Grill mysteriously closed sometime in October. The iconic bar’s long history began in the 1940s when it was frequented by legends like Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn. The building was sold in September and will make way for a new commercial and retail space in a rapidly changing neighborhood.
Jaffa, the modern Middle Eastern restaurant with Israeli influences, closed both locations late this year. Owners Anne Conness and Nancy Vrankovic of Sausal and Mosa in the South Bay, opened the West Third Street location in 2017, while the Palms location debuted this past summer.
Filipino rice bowl spot Rice Bar shuttered at the end of May, ending a four-year run for chef and owner Charles Olalia. The postage stamp-sized spot seated only seven diners, while the menu explored the chef’s Filipino heritage. Olalia continues to run Ma’am Sir in Silver Lake.
Nyesha Arrington closed her Santa Monica restaurant Native in March after opening in 2017. The 18-month-old restaurant couldn’t keep up with the staggering overhead costs including rising minimum wage and high rents in Santa Monica.
Kura Fine Japanese Cuisine
In a failed battle to save a historic building, Kura Fine Japanese Cuisine announced its closure in late November. Opened in 2002 by Sunny and Daniel Son, Kura was considered one of LA’s best sushi restaurants, especially for its omakase featuring seafood from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market.
Sherman Oaks’s Corky’s and adjacent Cork Lounge closed this December after operating for six decades. Originally designed by LA architects Armet and Davis, the Googie-style diner was an all-day fixture on Van Nuys Boulevard. Curbed LA reported that locals are concerned about demolition, but says there are no plans or demolition permits on file the city.
Less than one year into its run, Tartine closed its public-facing restaurants and marketplace at the Manufactory inside the Row. The beloved Bay Area operation continues to run Tartine Sycamore and has plans to open additional cafe-bakeries in Silver Lake and Santa Monica.
Pastry chef Nicole Rucker closed her Fairfax restaurant after just nine short months. Fiona opened as a bakery complete with Rucker’s famous pies, cookies, pastries, and breads, and slowly morphed into something even more unique on the savory side thanks to Rucker’s longtime friend chef Shawn Pham. The restaurant was the first to be reviewed by LA Times co-critic Bill Addison who said that he was mostly “smitten” with the place, even if the savory menus were still “works in progress.”
Downtown vegetable paradise PYT closed in early March. Chef Josef Centeno let go of the popular space at the end of a long and winding road for the corner location. For years it was staple neighborhood spot Pete’s Cafe. Centeno took over in 2014 as executive chef and flipped the restaurant to a new concept called Ledlow Swan and then just Ledlow. For its final act, the dining room was bifurcated to create PYT. Many of the most popular PYT dishes are now served at sister restaurant Orsa & Winston.
Roy Choi closed cult favorite Chego in Chinatown after a six-year run inside Far East Plaza. Long before lines descended on Howlin’ Ray’s for Nashville-style hot chicken and Lasa began serving modern Filipino food, Chego was among the first tenants to take to Chinatown’s cavernous shopping centers. “While Chego was sad to leave Chinatown, we are currently open within Kogi Taqueria and Alibi Room as a pop-up as we look for our new location in 2020,” according to a representative for the restaurant.
Sotto, the beloved Southern Italian restaurant on Pico Boulevard, closed in late January. Opened by Steve Samson, Dina Samson, and Zach Pollack in 2011, the perennial Essential 38 restaurant served excellent Neapolitan pizzas and pastas. The Samsons continue to operate Rossoblu and Superfine in Downtown, while Pollack owns Alimento and Cosa Buona on the Eastside.