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Once-Promising Pearl’s BBQ No Longer Smoking in the Arts District

The restaurant’s investors have pulled out, it seems

Pearl’s BBQ
Pearl’s BBQ
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

The increased proliferation of some pretty fantastic barbecue across Los Angeles has been great for eaters, but certainly does come with increased competition for pitmasters and their restaurants. Take for example Pearl’s BBQ, the Arts District Texas-style ‘cue that just announced its closure on social media, effective immediately.

Pearl’s started life as a busy pop-up, filled with promise and long lines that wrapped well past owner Dana Blanchard’s bulging Texas-style offset smoker. Late in 2017 the company went legit with an all-outdoor space on Violet Street that felt like something pulled straight out of Austin, complete with corrugated steel roofing and picnic tables for all to enjoy. The opening party offered live music and lots of meat, but the fanfare was short-lived as the restaurant was shut down by the health department just a few months later, for reportedly cooking and selling food in a manner “beyond the scope of [their] operation/commissary agreement.”

The restaurant was able to reopen not long after, but the shine had worn off a bit, ultimately leading to Blanchard’s decision to relocate to a nearby storefront space on 7th Street, complete with indoor Airstream trailer that doubled as the service counter. Pearl’s continued there for months, before announcing its closure on Instagram yesterday, saying “the partners have decided to split ways.” The news comes after an unexpected closure last week that was originally dubbed as being “closed for filming.”

Despite the loss of Pearl’s, there is still a ton of great barbecue in Los Angeles, from Slab on West Third Street to Moo’s Craft BBQ on Sundays at Smorgasburg and the busy Ray’s BBQ in Huntington Park.