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50-Year Mexican Mainstay La Abeja to Close in Highland Park This Year

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The owners are retiring, and it’s unclear what’s next

La Abeja restaurant green exterior with truck out front
La Abeja
La Abeja
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.

Legendary Highland Park restaurant La Abeja is set to close soon, as owner Rogelio Fonseca say he’ll be selling off the 50-year-old restaurant and attached properties sometime in the near future.

In a sprawling, emotional conversation with newly-installed L.A. Taco editor Javier Cabral, Fonseca says that he always planned to stop working when he hit the age of 65; he’s a month away now. While Fonseca has not yet sold off the business, building, and a few attached properties, he is already taking down some trinkets from the walls and recalling old memories.

Fonseca’s parents moved to the States in the 1950’s and started the restaurant in 1969, and he spent years cleaning the floors before school. Ultimately he grew into ownership himself, and has kept many members of his staff for decades. Once his wife fell ill last year, Fonseca tells the Taco that he began to consider moving on, and is now formalizing plans to sell.

As for the future of the corner restaurant on Figueroa, straddling Cypress Park, no one is quite sure just yet. Cabral writes:

The reality is that due to its high-demand location, that dream future of a revamped La Abeja is outweighed by the current trend of out-of-state money coming into the highly competitive property marketplace in northeast L.A. When I bring up the possibility of an Abeja-less future, Rogelio gets a little antsy...

Still, the legacy of the restaurant remains. Today has been designated “La Abeja Day” by the city of Los Angeles, thanks to local council member Gil Cedillo, and there’s still time (for now) to stop in for chilaquiles and all the other fan favorites from the restaurant.

La Abeja. 3700 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA.