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Surprise Health Department Closure Left LA Diners Stranded on Valentine’s Day

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Koreatown’s Openaire was forced to cancel all reservations

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Koreatown’s sunny upstairs restaurant Openaire.
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.

Surprised diners were left without a primo reservation on Friday night for Valentine’s Day, after Koreatown hotel restaurant Openaire was shut down by the Los Angeles County public health department. The unexpected issue left more than a few folks high and dry during one of the busiest reservation days of the year, and now the restaurant is trying to make things right.

Concerned diners emailed Eater to register their surprise at being told, just hours ahead of their reservations, that Openaire would not be able to seat them. Multiple people were called by the restaurant and informed only that there was an “emergency;” they were given no other information as to the closure.

No one at the restaurant directly answered the phone on Friday night despite multiple call attempts, and a worker at the Line Hotel’s front desk would only say that a “technical issue” precluded them from serving on Valentine’s Day, despite the reservations. The restaurant has since been dinged multiple times on Yelp by dissatisfied customers left without an alternative on Valentine’s Day.

Eater has confirmed that the restaurant was shut down by the health department on Wednesday, February 12 for being in violation of California Health and Safety code section 114259.1, otherwise known as a “vermin infestation.” That broad term can ultimately mean mean a variety of different things, from the presence of a mouse or other small animal, or cockroaches, but it is considered a major violation and grounds for closing a restaurant immediately by order of the County’s public health team.

It is likely that, with two days’ notice, the team attempted to reopen in time for Valentine’s Day service, but was not given the opportunity of a re-inspection in time — hence the last-minute calls to cancel all reservations.

Here’s a screenshot of the infraction:

Openaire started in 2018 at the Line Hotel in Koreatown, as the follow-up to Roy Choi’s previous restaurant there called Commissary. That spot closed when Choi moved on from a contract to provide food for the Wilshire Boulevard hotel, leaving star Westside chef Josiah Citrin (Melisse, Citrin, Dear John’s) to begin serving modern California cuisine in the atrium space soon after.

Reached for comment on the closure, reps for Citrin sent the following to Eater on the morning of Saturday, February 15:

We have taken the appropriate measures and will reopen for brunch and dinner on February 15. We apologize to the guests who chose to spend their Valentine’s Day with us and were unable to do so. We have reached out to those guests directly. We are committed to and look forward to continuing to provide the highest quality experience for guests of Openaire, the Line Hotel, and the greater Koreatown and Los Angeles community. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Those reps also confirmed to Eater that the restaurant has since offered a “dining credit” to those affected by the sudden cancellation.

Occasional health department woes are always a possibility for any restaurant, particularly ones in large urban markets that may deal with higher chances of vermin infestations. Just back in December, Downtown’s “never closed” breakfast staple the Pantry was shut down by the health department for the same infraction, reopening soon after.


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