After two-plus years of on-and-off messaging, false starts, dashed hopes, lost lives and closed businesses, Los Angeles County is once again mask-free in the face of an ongoing global pandemic. The updated county public health order means that starting today, March 4, people and workers inside restaurants, bars, distilleries, gyms, and other public spaces no longer need to wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its mutating variants — regardless of vaccination status. The new public health order also drops vaccine mandates or checks for smaller indoor spaces (like restaurants) or at large-scale outdoor public events, though vaccination is required for larger indoor events (those with over 1,000 people in attendance), say, like NBA games.
The news has been expected for some time as greater Los Angeles continues to see precipitous declines in total cases and hospitalizations from the coronavirus and its variants like omicron, which tore through the city last winter. Masking was again dropped in many places statewide in early February, and masks were allowed to come off in spaces that check for vaccination status a week or so ago in LA County. Now, they’re gone completely at the county level; the city of Los Angeles technically (for the time being) still has its own vaccine mandate ordinance, though compliance had been spotty before the new county-level rules. Individual businesses can still mandate the use of masks — say, when moving within a dining room or not actively eating — at their discretion as well.
Chain restaurant updates and an LA expansion into San Diego
Need a chicken tender fix? Raising Cane’s, the massively popular fast food operation, is heading to Hollywood and Burbank soon to fill just such a need. Expect long lines of cars at the two locations, as first reported by What Now LA. Over in Culver City, Yalla Mediterranean has disappeared rather quickly, even scraping off the signage from the windows. A location in Burbank is still open, says Toddrickallen.
Meanwhile, HomeState is expanding again, this time down to the San Diego city of Oceanside. Eater San Diego has all the details on the flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, queso, and shredded brisket that folks can expect.
The tender party returns
Speaking of chicken tenders, LA’s own Tender Fest is coming back this summer. The event, first held before the pandemic, was a hit with diners and tender fans, featuring fried options from some of the city’s biggest culinary names. Now the party returns on August 20 in Beverly Hills, though a lineup of talent has not yet been announced for the fun one-day free-for-all.
Two newer names making moves
Chefs Louis Huh and Marcos Spaziani are two names to watch around Los Angeles. The pair previously teamed up to run ML Eats as a food truck and pop-up, but now they’re quickly expanding into the city’s evolving restaurant space. First up is a takeover of the restaurant inside the O Hotel at 821 S. Flower Street, called the Burrow, with a focus on fan-favorite comfort food from tacos and burgers to truffle bacon mac and cheese. Next up from Huh and Spaziani (with partner Peter Kim of Caffe Concerto) is Marlou, a more upscale brunch, lunch, and dinner destination with locations in Koreatown and Downtown. It’s also worth noting that Spaziani is the new chef for Bravo’s Below Deck Sailing Yacht reality show. Take a peek inside Downtown’s Marlou below.