Yellow Fever originally began as a Torrance standalone space for rice bowls and other Asian fusion fare. The company came under fire back in 2018 when it partnered with Whole Foods in Long Beach to open a mini location inside the grocery store. The restaurant’s opening announcement on Twitter was beset with negative replies from prominent Asian-Americans and food writers alike, and the ensuing debate on the culturally insensitive name was even picked up on by The New York Times. In interviews, Yellow Fever owners Michael and Kelly Kim said that they were trying to “reclaiming the term.”
Eventually the scuffle died down, and business continued — but not enough business it seems to keep the restaurants (including a third location in Marina del Rey) afloat. In an email, Michael Kim tells Eater:
This started and always has been a passion project more than a business, but at the end of the day if you can’t make money you won’t survive. We are so thankful for the experience and we know that we had an impact in some people’s lives and that makes the whole thing worth it.
The final day of service has already come and gone for the Marina del Rey and Long Beach locations, with Torrance closing as of Sunday, or until all the food is gone.