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Chinatown Burger Restaurant Brings Back the Beef After Finding Vegan Menu ‘Unsustainable’

“Our sales plummeted by 50 percent” after going vegan three years ago and still have not recovered, says Burgerlords owner Fred Guerrero

A tall meaty burger with cheese and lettuce and pastrami and chili, in hands.
The Oinkster’s pastrami-topped burger in Eagle Rock.
Wonho Frank Lee
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.

Burgerlords in Chinatown, the California-cool walk-up burger restaurant that went fully vegan three years ago, is once again planning to offer meat and dairy. The shift — a boon for some, and a loss for those who eschew beef and dairy — comes as part of a larger restructuring at the restaurant, with Eagle Rock’s the Oinkster joining up with Burgerlords Chinatown to offer a new hybrid menu with hit items from both restaurants.

“Three years ago when I decided to turn Burgerlords into an all-vegan restaurant, our sales plummeted by 50 percent,” says Fred Guerrero, who founded Burgerlords in Chinatown with his brother Max Guerrero in 2015. “I had hoped that over time we would gain some of that back, but that day never came.” So instead, the younger Guerrero will now merge his Chinatown menu with the Oinkster, the popular meat-friendly restaurant on Colorado Boulevard that his father Andre Guerrero founded in 2006. Marrying the two will hopefully help to make Burgerlords Chinatown a financially viable restaurant, says the younger Guerrero. “It’s no longer sustainable for us to operate as a 100 percent vegan restaurant.”

What’s more, Fred Guerrero has now taken over the reins at the Oinkster as well as both Burgerlords locations, with father Andre retiring from the restaurant industry and brother Max stepping away from Burgerlords a while back. “I started my career working with my dad in his restaurants and I feel very fortunate to able to continue on with the work that has been established there over the past 16 years,” says Fred Guerrero.

A corner walk-up restaurant with a white awning.
Burgerlords in Chinatown
Matthew Kang

That’s a lot of transition for the Guerrero family, and keen-eyed Chinatown locals have likely been aware of some upcoming changes for a little while now. Burgerlords in Highland Park, meanwhile, will remain a 100 percent vegan restaurant “for the time being,” or as long as it remains financially possible to do so, says Fred Guerrero. The shift in Chinatown is now full steam ahead, with a new hybrid menu that once again includes American cheese and Angus beef burgers. Burgerlords’ vegan tahini milkshakes will remain, and the Oinkster’s Belgian-style French fries will join the part in Chinatown, too. The newly merged menu is below, with indications for the items that remain vegan.

Conversations about restaurant viability have begun to hit Los Angeles hard in the new year, with several prominent closures happening in the past few weeks. Konbi, once hailed as the Bon Appétit’s best new restaurant in America, has closed both of its LA locations, while Eszett in Silver Lake is set to shutter at the end of the month along Sunset Boulevard. Magari in Hollywood is already done too, and in Chinatown lauded Cantonese restaurant Pearl River Deli is preparing to wind down its current operations, with an unannounced shift in menu and focus coming next month.


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