The controversy surrounding Sqirl and a photo of moldy jam has blown up the Internet over the past 24 hours. Yesterday, rumors surfaced of questionable food handling practices at Jessica Koslow’s famed daytime restaurant, known for its millennial-chic jam packaging and hipster celebrity clientele. Those allegations went into overdrive when a photo of mold-laden jam went viral, leading to a quick backlash against a restaurant, which was also accused of gentrifying the neighborhood and taking advantage of recipes created by its staff.
So it’s maybe no surprise the Virgil Village restaurant isn’t very busy right now. In fact, even considering the effect of the pandemic on restaurant business, it’s remarkably deserted on a sunny Monday morning — a contrast to the long lines it was famous for in the pre-pandemic times, when they routinely stretched around the corner. After sit-down dining in restaurants was shut down in mid-March, Sqirl continued to do brisk business with takeout and delivery, before closing for period due to the uncertainty concerning safe operations. As the pandemic progressed, things slowly opened back up again and Sqirl reopened some time in June.
Before the pandemic, dozens of diners sat on the sidewalk at any given time, with hundreds of people passing through before noon. Earlier today at around 10 a.m., there was just one couple waiting for their takeout meal, and a few cars stopping in front for curbside pickup. And, despite outdoor dining still being allowed under current guidelines amidst the recent surge of coronavirus infections in LA County, tables and chairs usually set up outside have been pulled away.
While the restaurant has responded to the jam controversy, it has not yet directly addressed allegations about its hidden kitchen space or that recipes were appropriated without proper credit from former employees.