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Hollywood’s Touristy Hard Rock Cafe Pivots to Esports Gaming to Stay Relevant

Plus, new dumplings to love, and a massive development in Downtown

Businesses along Hollywood Boulevard board up in preparation for potential civil unrest following the U.S. Presidential election
The boarded up Hard Rock Café in Hollywood in 2020.
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
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.

Hollywood’s Hard Rock Cafe is pivoting along with everyone else, adding Esports (that’s online gaming) to its programming roster. The iconic international restaurant brand, known for its music-inspired menus and kitschy band memorabilia, has likely been hard-hit during the pandemic as tourism fluctuated wildly, so now the call has come to partner up with Kore Meltdown to become, on occasion, an Esports bar and event venue. Starting April 13, the Los Angeles location (along with other cities like Seattle and Chicago) will begin hosting ongoing Esports gaming and viewing nights, where diners can catch the digital action as they eat and drink. There will also be ongoing tournaments, meet and greets with players, and more, all with an eye towards taking a slice of the growing Esports gaming industry’s billions of dollars in annual revenue. So, the next time you’re craving a chain restaurant burger at Hollywood and Highland, look out: an Esports tournament might break out around you.

A big Orange County group grows soon

The busy River Jetty restaurant group in Orange County is ready to add another option to its roster. Owners Jordan Otterbein and Joseph Nichol (known in Hollywood as the producer McG) will open A Crystal Cove at the Crystal Cove shopping center at 7864 E. Coast Hwy with chef Elvis Morales as the opening executive chef this May. Expect 200 seats of lively coastal fun, with a menu that pulls from the group’s other properties like A Restaurant and CdM Restaurant.

What out of towners are saying

Want to know where Vogue’s editors are spending their time when in Los Angeles? Here’s a hint: It’s mostly the Westside, with dining options like Great White, Elephante, Nobu Malibu, and Dan Tana’s (naturally).

Meanwhile the New York Times is tackling the sometimes tricky subject of gendered language in customers service spaces, citing Los Feliz’s Kismet as one example of a place that emphasizes gender-neutral language and pronouns when staff are speaking with diners.

A big bet on Downtown

A massive new Downtown development is one step closer to reality this week says the LA Times, as the Angels Landing complex near Grand Central Market has received formal city approval. The plan is to have the entire multi-building project — with two hotels, retail spaces, residences, and restaurants situated along the Angels Flight funicular — completed in time for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

An Industry of dumplings

Bafang Dumpling is now open in the City of Industry. The large dumpling and potsticker chain that originated in Taiwan sits at 1552 S. Azusa Avenue, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because there are over 1,000 locations already in existence across Asia.