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Reborn Rat Pack Hangout Dear John’s Faces Uncertain Future After Losing Lease

Plus, changes at Hatchet Hall, Bridgetown Roti pops up at Wexler’s, and both Canter’s Deli and Oriel reopen

Inside Dear John’s, with red booths and dim lighting and lots of art on brick walls.
Dear John’s
Wonho Frank Lee
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.

Trouble may be brewing for Dear John’s, the popular throwback restaurant and bar that hails from LA’s Rat Pack era. The Culver City destination was always tiny, always cramped (pre-pandemic), and always had an expiration date on it, as the building it currently inhabits has long been slated for demolition and redevelopment. That construction was set to begin next month, which would have marked the natural end of the restaurant run by the Rockenwagners and Josiah Citrin, but the pandemic shifted everyone’s timelines and effective took away half of the Dear John’s lease.

Now ownership is trying to stay, at least for a little while. “April 1st is the official end of our lease,” says the team in a newsletter and social post sent out to fans. “We have been and are still in negotiations with the landlord about extending the lease.” They add: “The good news is… we are not closing on April 1st. While we negotiate, we will be on a month-to-month extension.” As for the future of the place long-term, Dear John’s is almost certain to ultimately disappear under the developer’s wrecking ball at some point; the question now is when.

In other news:

  • La Taqueria is opening a second location at the SteelCraft property in Long Beach, reports the Press-Telegram. The shop’s first location is along Seventh Street in Long Beach, and will now join takeaway spots like Waffle Love and Desano Pizza at SteelCraft.
  • Canter’s Deli is back for indoor dining, says KTLA, and has hired back roughly 100 staffers in the process.
  • Bridgetown Roti is popping up at Wexler’s Deli inside Grand Central Market, keeping hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Expect patties and even a pastrami roti with smoked beef cheek.
  • Maple Block is going heavy on St. Patty’s Day this week, turning out corned beef plates, sandwiches, shamrock cookies, and more.
  • Oriel, the moody, neon-lit Chinatown wine bar, is reopening tonight with a brand new chef and menu, per owner Dustin Lancaster.
  • Local hospitality podcast Side Work spent some time recently talking about accessibility and ADA compliance in the restaurant world with comedian Danielle Perez.
  • Chef Martin Draluck is leaving Hatchet Hall after six years. Check out the goodbye note below.