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Could West Hollywood’s New Pedestrian-Only Street Program Be a Model for All of LA?

Plus, San Diego trolls Dodger fans, Madre’s new menu, and a gelato newcomer hits LA during a heatwave

West Hollywood street closure on Robertson Boulevard in front of the Abbey
In front of the Abbey on Robertson
Lawrence Carroll

The City of West Hollywood first tested out a pedestrian-only zone that closed Robertson between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose a few months back, and now seems ready to make the move much more permanent. The ongoing experiment kicked off in force this weekend, with pedestrians and restaurants using the street for socially-distanced gathering without fear of passing traffic. The new program is being called “Out on Robertson,” and it could last for quite a while.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the new zone is an extension of WeHo’s temporary outdoor expansion permit program, meant to drum up foot traffic for beleaguered businesses and keep people from congregating indoors during the ongoing pandemic. Restaurants like The Abbey are well-situated spot for this with expanded seating onto the street, though some nearby restaurants have worried about the use of food trucks on the closed street as another possible business hurdle. For now Robertson will close every Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m.; expect more local businesses, vendors and nonprofits to set up booths in the coming weeks, as Los Angeles County restaurants and bars still face restrictions on indoor and outdoor capacity.

In other news:

  • On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that gives hospitality workers first rights for any rehiring as the state continues to open up. Senate Bill 93 focuses on eligible employees who were employed for more than six months in the 12 months before January 1, 2020, and laid off for nondisciplinary reasons, reports Los Angeles Times.
  • Fairfax’s Italian market Haute Mess launched a gelato bar last week.
A gelato bar at Haute Mess in Fairfax District, California.
Haute Mess
Courtesy of Haute Mess
  • LA Times reviewer Bill Addison wrote about LA’s thriving Instagram bakers, including Pasadena’s Butter Bakery, Pavé Bakery, and Sugarbloom Bakery.
  • San Diego restaurant Pretzels & Pints trolled Dodger fans over the weekend inter-state baseball series. A quick QR code scan on a special Dodger menu prompted Google Maps with directions back to LA. That’s pure shade, Pretzels and Pints. Pure, unapologetic shade.
  • Madre has launched a multi-course tasting menu, says Resy, aimed at digging even deeper into the roots of Oaxacan food.
  • El Monte’s cocktail bar Progress on Main is in the midst of a “bar reboot” reports San Gabriel Valley Tribune, who spoke with Diego Benitez. Benitez is also the co-owner of South El Monte’s The Progress Brewery.
  • Downtown Long Beach Alliance started distributing up to $10,000 grants for restaurants. The $225,000 city fund is specifically to reimburse Long Beach bars and eateries that moved operations outside due to COVID-19, writes the Grunion. Details can be found here.
  • Did someone say duck fat fries and burgers? L.A. Taco interviewed Proudly Serving’s Matthew McIvor and partner chef Kevin Malone whose smash burger pop-up could land permanently as South Bay restaurant if all goes well. Check Proudly Serving’s Instagram for details for the next dates at Bar Bandini and Glendale Tap.