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New Restaurant Workers Union at Genwa Could Transform Labor Rights in LA

Plus, a chile grasshopper croissant and more Los Angeles food news

A grill at Genwa Korean BBQ in Los Angeles, California.
A grill at Genwa Korean BBQ in Los Angeles, California
Genwa Korean BBQ website
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Food worker unionization is on the rise, and Los Angeles workers made substantial progress that could impact restaurants here and beyond. Korean and Latino workers at Genwa ratified their first union contract in June, which advocates say could become a model for immigrant restaurant workers in Los Angeles and beyond.

In 2020, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office cited the owners of Genwa Korean BBQ restaurant for violating labor laws that affected 325 dishwashers, servers, and cooks at its Beverly Hills and Mid-Wilshire locations. The $2.1 million fine (which was later reduced in a settlement) was levied as a penalty for labor violations such as lack of rest and meal breaks, unpaid overtime, and less than minimum wage pay.

For decades, restaurant workers across Los Angeles have accused owners of exploitation through wage theft and abuse. An NBC News story reports the agreement between Genwa workers — which covers employees at all three of Genwa’s restaurants in LA — includes reimbursement for health care and the rehiring of workers who were laid off after February 2020, a salary raise, seniority rights, sexual harassment training, retirement plans, equal tip-distribution, and a conflict resolution process. It’s possible that with the implementation of this new labor agreement, restaurant workers in the city might have a new standard for pay and working conditions.

Bobby Flay in LA

It’s always good to see Los Angeles restaurants get some love, especially in the form of Food Network shows featuring Bobby Flay and his daughter traversing around the California Coast. Bobby and Sophie on the Coast showcases LA hotspot Jitlada, Salt’s Cure, Mashti Malones, and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. It streams on Discovery+ beginning August 22, reports Deadline.

A chile grasshopper croissant

The L.A. Taco crew ventured to Cha Cha Chá in the Arts District for the perfect LA story. They sampled the restaurant’s croissant made by Bakers Kneaded, featuring a chile chapulines/grasshopper croissant. It’s available for brunch.

How Hanchic and Holy Basil are re-shaping the scene

Los Angeles food writer Andy Wang wrote a piece for the Robb Report where he suggests the Asian-owned and operated Hanchic and Holy Basil “represent the future of Asian-American food in LA.”

Bastille Day celebrations in Los Angeles

If planning to celebrate France’s Bastille Day in Los Angeles, head over to Simonette at Palihotel Culver City on July 14 for all-day menus. Reservations are recommended. Wolfgang Puck’s Ospero is also celebrating the Fête Nationale Française with a special menu. Beverly Hills newcomer Velverie Cafe and Teahouse is also jumping into the day’s festivities as well with signature drinks and canapes available to all attendees at no charge from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tesse also has a $65 prix fixe menu.

Genwa Korean BBQ

5115 Wilshire Boulevard, , CA 90036 (323) 549-0760 Visit Website