Montebello shipping container food hall, community hub, and gathering spot BLVD MRKT has two new eateries coming into the fold. The two new vendors include wood-fired pizzeria La Crosta and the Chicken Koop Express.
Mishelle Leblanc and Jason Moreno started Chicken Koop in 2015, expanding to locations in South El Monte, Alhambra, and Whittier. Both had careers in real estate before Chicken Koop, and found themselves seeking out healthier chicken options while traversing different neighborhoods. Eventually, the pair moved past visits to El Pollo Loco and into their own business. “We just jumped in and wanted to do a version of healthy chicken with a nice and cozy dining spot where you can sit down and have drinks,” says Leblanc.
Though the two previous locations center around oven-roasted chicken, the BLVD location cannot accommodate a stove. So instead Leblanc and Moreno have gotten creative with an abbreviated menu spread across items like popcorn chicken, poutine (Leblanc is a French-Canadian Mexican) and loaded nachos, taquitos, esquite, taquitos, quesadillas, fried cauliflower, plantains, and pozole. The accompanying sauces are designed to help diners find a favorite flavor, with housemade sauces from Peru and Mexico along with a Chinese ginger garlic sauce, and Argentine chimichurri.
Then there’s the Neapolitan-style pizza joint La Crosta, which opened in late April. Owner Jason Raiola worked in the Southland restaurant industry for decades, from dishwasher to prep cook, and has been running La Crosta as a pop-up and catering business since 2019. When business slowed down during the pandemic, he appeared regularly in Whittier’s Bailey’s Beverage Corner parking lot (the liquor store became a rotating hub for food trucks and pop-ups throughout the pandemic). Raiola stayed put for a year and a half before he was invited to start making pizza in Whittier Brewing Company last December.
Raiola’s pizzas include the godfather with Italian sausage, Ezzo pepperoni, and thinly sliced capicola. Of course, there’s a margherita pizza, but there’s also the gavone pie with smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, gorgonzola, garlic, and bacon.
BLVD MRKT opened last September, quickly establishing itself as a celebrated food hall for the surrounding community. Within BLVD are the Eastside outlet for Pez Cantina, Los Taquero Mucho, Vchos Modern Pupuseria, Cafe Santo, Alchemy Craft, and Nola’s Cajun Cuisine. La Crosta and the Chicken Koop will join this group of vendors looking to expand their restaurant footprint through an incubator program designed to support first-time restaurant owners, or those looking to expand.
Chicken Koop Express operates Tuesday through Thursday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. La Crosta operates Tuesday through Thursday and Sundays from noon until 8:30 p.m., and remains open until Friday and Saturday night until 9:30 p.m.