Los Angeles chef D. Brandon Walker is readying for his next adventure, this time in Downtown’s South Park neighborhood. Walker is perhaps best known recently for the Mar Vista, his former locally-focused neighborhood restaurant that first debuted along Venice Boulevard in 2016. Now he’s landing on the corner of 9th and Olive with a hybrid cafe, restaurant, and gallery space known simply as the Art Room.
Reps for the incoming 3,500 square foot restaurant tell Eater that Walker plans to operate the space as a grab-and-go initially, with mostly breakfast and lunch food. That means everything from breakfast burritos to vegan falafel salads at lunch, with a transition into a light bar bites-style evening service to start. By summer (or so) Walker hopes to push into a more robust dinner service with pastas, steaks, and burgers — plus drinks — as well as one-off tasting menu nights within the attached Seasons LA Gallery space. Once fully realized, the stark cafe space designed by award-winning AUX Architecture should operate cohesively with the attached gallery for live events and installations, and with a neighborhood eager for relatively inexpensive fast-casual options, day and night.
The notion of feeding a neighborhood is one that Walker knows well. Despite spending some of his career cooking for high-end private clients like actress Helen Hunt, Walker’s real work is in community-building. While his former restaurant the Mar Vista (which Walker left in 2020) remains closed indefinitely, he still operates the nearby MV Grab & Go with a similarly rounded menu and takeaway model. What’s more, Walker has long advocated a streets-to-employment pipeline through his work with the St. Joseph Center, teaching culinary skills to people trying to get back on their feet. Today Walker staffs his kitchens mostly from that program, and hopes to use the Art Room as a venue to continue his work.
Expect the Art Room to open in late March or early April at 908 S. Olive Street in Downtown, inside a rehabbed 1915 building that sits just a block from both the Ace Hotel and Freehand.