71Above opening back in 2016 was a very big deal for Downtown Los Angeles. Not only was the sky-high restaurant an instant hit with crowds looking to dine at helicopter level, it also ushered in the age of chef Vartan Abgaryan as a fine dining mainstay for the city. Now Abgaryan is moving on.
After three years, Abgaryan says he’s ready to form a new chapter at a still-undisclosed project around town, though he is quick to note that he’ll still be on site the next few weeks to ensure a peaceful transition — and likely for future one-off events and menu ideation down the line as well. The plan is to put the 360-degree dining room in the hands of longtime collaborator and chef de cuisine Javier Lopez, who has been working with Abgaryan for the better part of a decade.
In a statement to Eater, Abgaryan says:
I have been extremely privileged and fortunate to have enjoyed the greatest opportunity of my life so far, in working with Emil Eyvazoff and the talented and dedicated team at 71Above. A restaurant of this size and of this caliber requires a huge commitment of a person, and it has been my great pleasure to immerse myself in this juggernaut. It is time for me to hand the restaurant over to somebody who I am certain can give it the attention that it and the team deserves, something that I, for my own reasons, are currently not really able to continue to do. Emil and I have worked on this transition for the last few months to ensure that the restaurant will continue to grow and flourish, both as a business, and creatively.
It’s no small thing running a restaurant on the 71st floor of a Downtown high-rise building, and Abgaryan and owner Emil Eyvazoff has become rather close over the past several years. Eyvazoff says:
We will continue our pursuit of perfection under the leadership of Chef Javier Lopez and we wish Chef Vartan every possible success in his future endeavors. He will also always be family to us.
Lopez says the call-up to executive chef is a “huge honor” for him, and that he hopes to “continue the tradition of exceptional cuisine that 71Above has established since opening.” Details are still to come on Abgaryan’s next move, though he’ll be in the building at 71Above for the next few weeks.
71Above. 633 W. 5th St., Los Angeles, CA.