It’s been five years since chef Ray Garcia opened Broken Spanish in Downtown LA’s South Park neighborhood, and the world has changed. High rises now dot the skyline near the restaurant and more are on the way, meant to ring the entertainment industrial complex known as L.A. Live. The construction is ongoing but for now, the convention center, sports arena, music complex, and tourist corridors are all closed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Owing to that dramatic drop in foot traffic, dinnertime activity, and the uncertain economic future that awaits, Broken Spanish is closed too.
Garcia made the announcement of Broken Spanish’s closure on Instagram early this morning, saying in a heartfelt post:
Broken Spanish was more than a restaurant, it was a family. Together we pushed each other to be the best ambassadors of a cuisine and culture that up to that point had been so often overlooked, underappreciated and underrepresented in the culinary community.
Like with many of the best dreams however, Broken Spanish has unfortunately come to an abrupt end. As we close our doors it is not just with sadness but with tremendous gratitude for all that have come out to support us throughout the past five years.
While the restaurant was most often considered to fall into the already-nebulous “modern Mexican” category, the reality is that Broken Spanish defied easy categorization. The large space (formerly hit spot Rivera from chefJohn Sedlar) held Garcia’s dreams and a belief that the food he grew up eating as an Angeleno could be worked through a finer dining lens and turned out into plates that everyone would love, even if they did not feel their history. Until the very end, having pivoted to mostly takeout and delivery, Garcia’s menu pulsed with oxtail tamales that signature chicharron that Jonathan Gold extolled as “a glorious, Mexican-spiced porchetta.”
View this post on Instagram
To our beloved supporters – our guests, friends, family, community and city. It is with great sadness that we announce the closure of Broken Spanish for the indefinite future. With very much in our hearts but so few words, we want to thank you for an incredible five years, for sharing our culture and vision, and for making Broken Spanish what it is today. • ———————- The support and love over the past several months will never be forgotten, and the past five years will be forever celebrated. We close our doors today with an abundance of gratitude in our hearts and hopes that this is just goodbye for now. • —————————- With this loss we will continue to press on, not give up, and to share more with you. Follow us at @milaforall for what we hope will be the next time we meet. We Love You LA. • With incredible gratitude and gratitude, Chef Ray Garcia and the Broken Spanish Family #ONETEAMONEDREAM
While Broken Spanish has gone away, Garcia has not. He is now making the same pivot that many chefs have — a new takeaway option called MILA that he hopes could be a new foundation for something different, something broader, down the line.
“Having extra square footage right now isn’t a benefit,” Garcia told Eater recently. “I’m in Downtown LA, across from a convention center that, who knows when it will open again. A sports arena, who knows when we can go to games again. A music center, who knows that will come back alive. A business district where nearly everyone is working remotely from home.”
Broken Spanish joins some of the biggest names in Los Angeles restaurants in announcing a sudden closure as a result of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic. Just within the past week, 31-year-old Patina has shuttered for good in Downtown, as has the seminal Baco Mercat. Dong Il Jang is done after 41 years in Koreatown, and everyone from Simmzy’s to Trois Mec is being forced to consider their own closures as well.
It now seems, in such a rapidly changing world, that the only thing left to do is demand a federal bailout for small restaurants, before there isn’t an industry left to save.