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LA City Council Mulls $5 Million Emergency Fund to Support Street Food Vendors

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Plus a new red sauce Italian option, and lots of places to spend money for a good cause

Salvadoran street market in front of Koreatown’s Two Guys Plaza with stalls and cooked foods.
Street food vendors in Los Angeles
Bill Esparza
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.

Los Angeles city councilmember Monica Rodriguez is calling for an emergency $5 million fund to be created by the city to directly help street food vendors. The money is meant to not only cover some lost revenue from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and mandated lockdowns, but would also help to finance those vendors still seeking a legal pathway forward for vending. Despite years of legislation and the creation of an approved framework for a vending permit, there are currently less than ten fully-licensed vendors capable of working in the city of Los Angeles; the other countless thousands must continue to work illegally thanks to a byzantine system of regulations and costs.

In a release, Rodriguez says: “Street vending contributes to the culinary vibrancy of the City of Los Angeles and provides many budding restaurateurs with the first stepping stone in working towards a brick and mortar business... As we move towards economic recovery, vendors are now facing steeper challenges in financing the up-front expenses necessary to vend in compliance. It is important for the City’s collective economic recovery strategy to include resources to assist street vendors in achieving compliance to reopen their businesses.”

Back in March, Rodriguez called for increased enforcement by the LAPD and Bureau of Street Services against unlicensed vendors as a response to the pandemic, and the council has so far declined to remove that request for enforcement, instead sending the motion back to committee. The current fund motion, seconded by councilmember Gil Cedillo, is now in a separate committee for further discussion.

And in other news:

— A new op-ed in the LA Times calls for the creation of a restaurant-style grading system for all businesses to help customers determine if they feel comfortable with the safety measures put in place during the global coronavirus pandemic.

— West Adams brewery Party Beer Co. is getting set for its first can launch, a golden ale that will see 100% of profits donated to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.

The H.Wood team is launching a collection of delivery-only ghost kitchen restaurants, including Mama’s Guy (red sauce Italian), Ela Ela (California Mediterranean), Beautiful Foods (American vegan), and more. Mama’s Guy starts up on Friday.

— Silver Lake restaurant Eszett is selling some housemade hot sauce, with proceeds going to the NAACP legal defense fund.

— All-outdoor Mexican restaurant Salazar in Frogtown isn’t sure when it will reopen, saying on Instagram that “we REALLY want to see you again, but the last thing we want to do is put anyone’s safety at risk.”

Maple Block Meat Co. has launched a new sub-concept called Sandwich Salad Supply, focusing (as the name implies) on sandwiches and lighter salads, instead of barbecue.