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Why LA’s Slab Barbecue Endorsed an Up-and-Coming USC Football Commit

Plus, Kato’s new bar tasting menu, and Starbucks closes six local stores

High school football Santa Margarita vs. Los Alamitos
Quarterback Malachi Nelson of Los Alamitos in September 2021.
Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Malachi Nelson, a senior high school quarterback at Los Alamitos High School and 2023 commit for USC’s football team, garnered modest headlines last month for his Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deal with h.wood Group, a restaurant and hospitality company based in Los Angeles. What hasn’t been announced were some particulars of the deal, which focused on Nelson’s endorsement of h.wood’s Slab Barbecue, which is located on West Third Street in Beverly Grove. Eater spoke with h.wood co-founder John Terzian to understand more about the deal.

“My two favorite things are USC football and barbecue,” says Terzian, who was a walk-on quarterback for USC’s football team in the early 2000s. Terzian and partner Brian Toll are both USC graduates and passionate football fans. “The amount of the deal is really small; it’s more about the relationship and a thing to get started in the world of business [for Nelson],” says Terzian, who considers the young quarterback a “complete athlete and amazing person.” Nelson will be promoting Slab Barbecue through in-person appearances at tailgates and social media content.

On the subject of being one of the first Los Angeles restaurants to pursue a NIL deal with an amateur athlete, Terzian said h.wood is always on the cutting edge. “He’s a senior in high school. Right now it’s more about [investing] in him as a person, as a star in the making,” says Terzian.

Starbucks says it’s closing LA-area stores due to safety

The Los Angeles Times reports that Starbucks will close six LA-area stores, including in Santa Monica, Hollywood, and San Pedro, due to unsafe conditions. “After careful consideration, we are closing some stores in locations that have experienced a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate, to open new locations with safer conditions,” said the coffee company in a statement. The company also said the closures had nothing to do with recent efforts from employees around the country to unionize.

Outdoor grilling Thursdays at Ayara Thai

Combining elements of Korean barbecue and shabu shabu, Ayara Thai in Westchester is doing an outdoor meal called Moo Krata, costing $45 a person. The dinners will run Thursdays starting tomorrow until the end of July.

French dips, cobb salads, and other original LA dishes

The Times also has a helpful guide to dishes that were invented in Los Angeles, from the California roll to the french dip to the Cobb salad, the latter of which was created at the now-demolished Brown Derby in what is now Koreatown. There are also plenty of drinks that were created in LA, from the Moscow Mule to the iconic Zombie cocktail, first mixed at Hollywood’s Don the Beachcomber’s in 1934.

Kato’s new bar tasting menu is a gem in the making

Crab fat rice at the bar at Kato in Downtown.
Crab fat rice at the bar at Kato in Downtown.
Matthew Kang

Backed by Austin Hennelly’s compelling cocktail menu, Kato is fleshing out a full tasting menu available at the bar only beginning in August. The six-course menu costs $145 and will include sea urchin, scallop, and boba dishes, as well as a wagyu supplement for extra spendy bar tastings. Reservations will only be available between 5:30 and 6 p.m., with the bar opening up for walk-ins and a la carte ordering after 7:30 p.m. if seats are available. The bar tasting also has a $60 wine pairing option or $35 non-alcoholic beverage pairing. Reservations are live as of today, with the bar tasting menu here.

Slab Barbecue

8136 West 3rd Street, , CA 90048 (310) 855-7184 Visit Website