Hideout Sycamore, the cocktail and natural wine bar from Julian Cox and Alejandro Marchesini, has closed abruptly just three weeks after its debut — and likely will not reopen — due to a health department closure. The closure comes as a result of a misunderstanding and unauthorized use of the permit for the multi-faceted building, ultimately blighting Cox’s triumphant return to Los Angeles after he spent years in Texas, San Francisco, and Chicago.
When Hideout opened in mid-March, it took over a divided part of the building adjacent to and just north of Tartine Sycamore. Tartine — which is currently operating without interruption — originally opened in August 2020 and mostly served pastries, coffee, and light fare during the day. The Hideout space, which was originally supposed to be an evening restaurant called Tartine Pizzeria with a fully built-out bar and banquettes for diners, was not in use until Cox and Marchesini conceived Hideout to take over it earlier this year.
Prolific LA restaurateur Bill Chait, a minority partner in Tartine, offered the space to Cox and Marchesini, employing Tartine Sycamore’s liquor license and health permit to use in the Hideout portion of the building. Hideout Sycamore was Julian Cox’s first foray into making cocktails in LA since 2016. The celebrated bartender had established Rivera as one of the city’s great restaurant bars in the late aughts, and had overseen cocktail menus everywhere from Picca and Petty Cash Taqueria to his own bar, the Fiscal Agent.
Hideout’s issues arose when the health department came to investigate the site last month, visiting not only Tartine Sycamore (which occupies the southern space) but also Hideout in the northern half, as well as delivery-only service The Finishing Gourmet, which prepares full steakhouse meals to eat at home and used the back section of the property as a commissary kitchen. The department’s investigation found that Tartine Sycamore’s liquor license and health permit only applied to Tartine and its employees, rather than entire building. (The Finishing Gourmet has since temporarily ceased operations and will look for a new space in the meantime.)
According to Chait, the health department could not reconcile the differences between the health permit and the different organizations operating inside of the building. According to policy, only employees of the organization listed in the health permit are allowed to work on the premises, a rule that likely many restaurants and eateries across the city don’t follow to the letter of the law. In theory, any pop-up restaurant with workers only temporarily cooking or serving in a space would be in violation of the respective health permits of the premise.
Ironically, it was Chait who helped champion LA’s now vital pop-up culture with his series of dinners called Test Kitchen in 2010 inside the eventual Sotto space. Chait was somewhat hopeful for a lenient outcome considering how battered the restaurant industry has been throughout the pandemic.
Now, after three appeals to try and approve the space, Hideout is out of luck. The closure was not a result of poor sales, as the place had been picking up strong word-of-mouth traffic and was poised to be a popular new cocktail spot in Hollywood. No word on what Cox and Marchesini will do at this point, though Chait says Tartine might eventually move to separately seek approval for the former Hideout space that would allow another establishment to operate independently there. That would require a completely new application and approval through plan check and the health department, as well as a separate liquor license for the space. That process would take a minimum of five to six months, according to Chait. Thankfully the block still has a very popular Gigi’s restaurant right across the street, as well as soon to fully reopen Sightglass a few doors down.