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LA’s Al Fresco Dining Program Inches Closer to Being Permanent

Plus, a six-month pasta series at Eataly, a doughnut collaboration for a cause, and more

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Server places dishes at an outdoor dining table in Glendale, CA.
A server places dishes at an outdoor dining table in Glendale, CA.
Matthew Kang
Virali_Dave is a writer and editor in Los Angeles. Born in Mumbai, she has always considered the West Coast to be the best coast. Her writing has appeared in FoodBeast, NBC News, LAist, Life and Thyme, The Ringer, Input Magazine, and more.

After three years of creating, expanding, and sustaining outdoor dining options throughout the city, restaurants in Los Angeles are one step closer to permanent changes to the rules around where (and how) customers can eat outside. The early pandemic Al Fresco program — which eased restrictions on outdoor dining and allowed restaurants to transform outdoor areas (including some public land) into al fresco dining spaces — is set to expire on May 11. Last Thursday, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal that would make the Al Fresco ordinance permanent, moving it forward to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, another step towards permanent approval.

In 2020, the Al Fresco program eased LA city regulations that came with red tape and high fees for restaurant owners in a time of great necessity. After restaurants invested in outdoor dining spaces in the early pandemic — purchasing outdoor heaters, additional furniture, fencing, and more — the option to dine al fresco proved to be popular. Proponents argued that it not only created more open spaces for folks to enjoy a meal with greater airflow, but it also created public areas that made more room for foot traffic and less room for cars. The new spaces came at no small cost to restaurant owners, who were already struggling to help their businesses survive.

The Los Angeles City Council will vote on the ordinance in the next few weeks.

Doughnuts galore

Holey Grail Donuts is releasing a limited-edition Cinco de Mayo flavor that will be available from May 5 to June 8 in collaboration with cook and author Rick Martinez. The taro doughnut shop from Hawaii will be serving a horchata doughnut with rhubarb, strawberries, and a horchata drizzle. A portion of sales from the collaboration will be donated to the Ali Forney Center, a non-profit organization that assists LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness around the country.

A tour through Eataly

Starting May 10, Eataly is launching a six-month series of events called Icons of Eataly that celebrates Italian cuisine and dining with limited-edition pasta dishes released monthly, plus workshops and classes, pop-ups with other brands, events with guest chefs, and more. The series kicks off with guest appearances with Mattia Agazzi from Gucci Osteria in LA and Italian soccer player Giorgio Chiellini. More details and programming for Los Angeles can be found on their website.

Rising Armenian talent

In a piece for the Los Angeles Times, Ani Duzdabanyan covered rising Armenian chefs and restaurateurs that have made an impact on the LA dining scene in recent years. Duzdabanyan highlights seven folks who break boundaries and offer new flavors in the form of doughnuts, sushi rolls, tacos, and even toast a la mode.

New breakfast and brunch in Culver City

Southern California breakfast chain Breakfast Republic has expanded to Culver City with its 15th location, opening at 9901 Washington Boulevard. The new 2,400 square-foot space serves churro pancakes, breakfast bacon mac and cheese, and strawberry and mascarpone french toast alongside breakfast cocktails and coffee.