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Lien Ta of LA’s All Day Baby Spoke at the Democratic National Convention

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In a video message, Ta spoke with Mayor Garcetti about the struggles of the independent restaurant scene in LA right now

Restaurant owner Lien Ta looks out the painted window of her restaurant.
Lien Ta
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.

Do not adjust your television set: That was indeed Lien Ta, co-owner of the now-closed Here’s Looking at You in Koreatown and All Day Baby in Silver Lake, appearing in a video with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti as part of the Democratic National Convention proceedings last night. Garcetti is a co-chair of the Joe Biden campaign.

“On the day of the shutdown, we were actually reviewed in the Los Angeles Times,” Ta says in the segment, which can be seen in the C-SPAN video below (at the 1:18:11 mark). “And on that day, the virus was announced as a global pandemic.”

“The first call” Ta was forced to make, she says, “was to furlough everybody” because of the shutdown orders that went into effect on March 15. That meant the loss of 100 jobs across both restaurants. Since then, Here’s Looking at You has closed for what is likely forever, while All Day Baby continues to work with a skeleton crew selling food from a takeout window in Silver Lake. “At this point, I don’t even see myself in business next month,” says Ta in the video.

“We don’t ask for much from our government,” mayor Garcetti says from inside All Day Baby, “but to catch us when we’re falling. And right now it must feel like you’re falling without a net.”

Indeed, many operators agree that forging a pathway forward is as uncertain today as it has ever been, with federal PPP loan money drying up and little hope on the near horizon of a vaccine, let alone a ‘return to normal.’ That has left many, Ta included, with a list of only unsavory choices to select from, including shutting down altogether to avoid further financial losses. Many prominent restaurants have already been lost in LA’s booming food scene, and more are sure to come — particularly without federal financial intervention.