Venerable Westside Italian institution C&O Trattoria finds itself, like so many other restaurants, in a particularly tough spot these days. After the usual round of change-ups, on-site dining stalls, and attempts at finding federal funding to stay afloat, owner Robert Singer now says the neighborhood classic is close to closing at its current location just “eight doors down” from the famed Venice Pier.
“We don’t want to have our restaurant be another COVID-19 casualty,” says Singer yesterday when reached by email, though he admits such a fate is largely out of his hands. “Thus far we have been unable to get our landlord at C&O Trattoria to work with us on either back rent owed or reduced rent moving forward during the pandemic,” he says. “We are still trying to work with him, but at least for the present we cannot reopen just to lose money.” Singer declined to specifically name his landlord, in hopes that a deal may still be possible.
“If I can’t work anything out with our landlord,” Singer says, “we may reopen elsewhere after the pandemic is over.” C&O Trattoria has existed at the same site since 1992. Singer owns a second restaurant — C&O Cucina — further down on Washington Boulevard, where he has concentrated his still-employed workers for takeout and delivery. “We have been able to re-employ some of our C&O Trattoria staff at our C&O Cucina,” says Singer, “but we are heartbroken about our longtime staff members that remain unemployed during the pandemic.”
The restaurant’s current uncertainty mirrors so many others as coronavirus rages across Southern California, from neighboring dive bar Hinano Cafe to Village Pizzeria on Larchmont, which has had an ongoing landlord dispute since the start of the pandemic. Some local operators have openly called for a citywide rent strike; others continue to push for more robust federal financial intervention to stave off further decimation of the nation’s small restaurant businesses.