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Gloriously Gaudy 12-Year Mall Mainstay RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen Has Closed

Plus, Hank’s Bagels sets an opening date in Sherman Oaks, and San Diego considers regulating street cart food vendors

A dark exterior for a neon-lit restaurant at night.

RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen has closed at the Westfield Century City mall after 12 long years, reports WhatNow Los Angeles. The soaring, opulent restaurant, visible from the street thanks to plenty of uplighting and tinges of neon, often felt like an obscure chain to those passing by, but in reality the restaurant was a one-off, at least until another (now also closed) location opened in 2017 at a mall in a Chicago suburb. RockSugar did have corporate backing, being an offshoot of the Cheesecake Factory — hence the mood lighting, over-the-top architecture, and expansive pan-Asian menu — from the minds of founder and CEO David Overton and company chef Mohan Ismail. The pair opened a toned-down, fast-casual version of the restaurant, called Social Monk, in Westlake Village in 2019.

The final day of service for the 2008-era restaurant was December 31. In a note left on the front door, ownership says that closing was a “difficult decision,” adding:

We have very much enjoyed being part of the Century City community for the last 12 years, and thank you for allowing us to serve you.

Like everyone else, malls (and the businesses within malls) have been hit hard during the ongoing pandemic, particularly now with limited shopper capacity and massive COVID-19 community spread keeping people at home. Parent company the Cheesecake Factory has had a rough year trying to transition to takeout and delivery, announcing early on in the pandemic that it would be unable to pay rents across most of its storefronts nationally. The company has also been fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading its investors about financial losses during the pandemic.

In other news:

  • Even the restaurants along the Central Coast, where COVID-19 cases have been surging of late, continue to ‘pivot’ with new takeout and delivery model. Nella Kitchen & Bar in the wine town of Los Olivos is now offering Roman-style pizza (aka pinsa, just like at Ospi, the currently-closed Fingers Crossed, and the recently-opened Oste in LA) to go several nights a week, while SY Kitchen in Santa Ynez is offering tried-and-true take-home pasta and cocktail options.
  • There’s a new matzoh ball soup and pickle pop-up happening on the Eastside. The name is Two Jewish Girls from NYC (naturally), and so far the plan is to stick with warming jars of homemade soup ($15) and pickles ($10 a jar), before eventually branching out into Jewish sandwiches, falafel, sabich, and more. This weekend is sold out, but the next round of distanced driveway pickups is January 23.
  • Firestone Walker’s mega-popular Wookey Jack beer is back for a short time for pick-up at the Propagator space in Venice. The award-winning black rye IPA is a three-time Great American Beer Fest gold medal winner, and will be available for a limited time.
  • Want to know how your average restaurant is doing with takeout and delivery apps? The numbers are staggering(ly bad) for most, including Melrose’s lauded Ronan. Check out their breakdown on the tens of thousands of dollars in costs here.
  • San Diego could be closing in on a proposal to permit and regulate street cart vendors, something the city has been struggling to do for years.
  • Good news, bagel fans: Hank’s Bagels is ready to roll open the doors to its new Sherman Oaks location at 13545 Ventura Boulevard, with an arrival planned for Tuesday, January 19, bright and early.

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