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After 20 Years in Santa Monica, Sushi Roku Gets a Complete Interior Makeover

Plus, In-N-Out’s vaccine proof battle heats up, and Sandita’s pop-up at Employees Only

The dining area and bar at Sushi Roku Santa Monica
Sushi Roku Santa Monica
Wonho Frank Lee
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

It’s hard to imagine but back in 2001, the restaurant world was pretty different than it was today. Sushi Roku’s Santa Monica has solid history on the busy corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. With owner IDG also operating the very popular Boa Steakhouse across the street, this part of Ocean Avenue has changed dramatically over the years, adding hotels and restaurants to make it one of the busiest dining neighborhoods in the city. For 20 years, the Sushi Roku has remained a popular tourist and locals spot with sushi, sashimi, and upscale Japanese izakaya fare. The full makeover is a lot more focused on al fresco dining; that openness includes a new patio and full windows that will allow a lot more ocean breeze to come in. It’s a thoughtful rework given that customers are keen on outdoor dining in 2021. Also in the works is a new omakase bar.

Sushi Roku dining room in Santa Monica
Sushi Roku dining room
Wonho Frank Lee
Sushi Roku exterior in Santa Monica
Sushi Roku

In-N-Out’s resistance to vaccine proof

San Francisco officials temporarily closed a San Francisco In-N-Out Burger location last week after refusing to ask customers for vaccination proof, which is in violation to the city’s mandate. But this flash point could mark the beginning of a bigger battle next month, writes the Los Angeles Times. Starting November 4 throughout Los Angeles, customers must require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and retail establishments or face penalties. There are five locations within the city of Los Angeles, which is instituting the specific vaccine proof mandate.

Amazon concessions at the Fabulous Forum

At the Forum in Inglewood, there’s a new concession store powered by Amazon with 66 cameras embedded in the ceiling to track your purchases. Present a credit card to enter, and leave without navigating a transaction. Variety has the full report.

Cheetos Flamin’ hot stick

If Hot Dog on a Stick is in your near future, any turkey, beef, veggie, or cheese hot dog can be transformed into a Cheetos Flamin hot stick. They’ll run this special until January 16, 2022.

Hot Dog on a Stick’s Cheetos Flamin’ hot stick
Cheetos Flamin’ hot stick
Courtesy of Hot Dog on a Stick

LA’s struggling restaurants

NBC-4 reports that 37 percent of California restaurants can’t pay their rent, including Fromin’s Restaurant & Deli in Santa Monica.

Employees Only and Sandy Ho’s pop-up Sandita

This Sunday, Employees Only will host chef Sandy Ho’s dumpling and tostadas pop-up Sandita’s. Reserve your table on Resy anytime between 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and try the chicken and apricot ragu dumplings or the whole fried fish plate with pickles vermicelli noodles, scallion oil and peanuts, lettuce, fermented shrimp chili sauce, and topped with a pineapple sauce.