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Chinatown’s Brunch Spot Loses Star Chef Less Than a Year After Opening

Becky Reams’s last day is June 14 at Lately

Lately restaurant in Chinatown
Wonho Frank Lee
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.

Chef and partner Becky Reams is leaving her post at Lately this month. Eater spoke with the MasterChef semi-finalist about the reasons for the departure. All parties describe the split as amicable and her last date is June 14. Lately’s remaining partners plan to bump up Emmanuel Johnson from the Church Key to lead the kitchen from his sous chef position.

Lately finally opened in its completed form last December in Chinatown’s Mandarin Plaza. Reams and partners Leo Budirahardjo, Geovanni Almazan, and Aldo Lihiang of Coffeehall opened Lately last September as a walk-up window, then expanded the popular place into a bright dining room with cozy sit-down service a few months later. Reams introduced a cheerful daytime menu to the plaza with old-fashioned doughnuts, fried green tomato sandwich, a country fried steak sandwich, waffles, and egg sandwiches.

According to Lihiang, Johnson is collaborating with Reams on a future revamped menu. And in the tradition keeping a rotating menu, they’ll add Nashville hot chicken and a smashed burger while keeping crowd favorites. Lihiang is confident about Lately’s direction, “We’re super thankful of what she’s created with us here in Chinatown,” says Lihiang. “I’m sad she has to move forward, but we’re super supportive of what she’s doing next.”

Reams provided the following statement to Eater:

“Being the founding chef and partner of Lately has been an incredibly meaningful and humbling experience for me. I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of support and love we’ve received from our patrons and community. After much deliberation, I have decided to part ways with the company, leaving my post with nothing but the utmost respect and love for my partners and staff at the restaurant. I am excited and to see them continue to grow and build a community in Chinatown.”

Lately. 970 N Broadway #114, Los Angeles, CA