It’s been a tough, complicated year for LA’s food scene, marked by tons of new openings like Enrique Olvera’s new Atla in Venice — and big-deal closures from Downtown to Santa Monica. In the past year, Los Angeles has said goodbye to some of its most well-known dining establishments, including the genre-defining Animal that helped to push Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo into the national spotlight for good. Others include the 32-year-old restaurant Shabu-Shabu House which first brought the Japanese hot pot style to America. Here are some of the biggest closures from 2023 so far.
Chris Feldmeier and David Rosoff first opened Moruno at the Original Farmer’s Market back in 2017 before reopening in Silver Lake in March 2022. The duo made waves with its stunning interior and ambitious Spanish fare before announcing a closure 19 months later in November 2023.
Jeon Ju Restaurant
Classic Koreatown restaurant Jeon Ju, located near the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, closed in January 2023 as owner Jennifer Lee decided it was too tiring and difficult to continue operating in spite the challenges of staffing shortages and increased costs. Jeon Ju was known for its stellar homestyle cuisine and stone pot bibimbap. A restaurant with a similar but slightly smaller menu serving bibimbap called Bap & Bap opened in its place.
Venerable Japanese sushi restaurant K-Zo closed after a 17-year run in Culver City, with chef Keizo Ishiba and co-owner/wife Yuki Ishiba saluting their regulars on Instagram. Their final day of operation was on October 29. Keizo Ishiba was trained in French kitchens and was known for infusing Western ingredients and cooking techniques with a creative flair.
Know Reality Pies
Popular Eagle Rock pie shop Know Reality Pies closed after seven years of business, though owner Tracy DeVore will continue operating through the holidays out of her home. Winning the KCRW Pie Contest for two years, DeVore used to bake over 250 pies a day out of her home kitchen, selling out most weekends. DeVore hinted on social media this week that she is plotting a return to a retail space in the near future.
Update: November 27, 2023, 9:17 p.m.: Know Reality Pies has secured a new location and will reopen on December 8 at 1578 Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock.
The Downtown branch of this burger restaurant closed a while back without too much notice. Relaunched by chef Christian Page at the ground floor of the Hotel Normandie, Page has since moved to Las Vegas, leaving both the Koreatown and Downtown locations without a named chef. Still, Cassell’s operated on Eighth Street amid bars and nightlife destinations since 2018 before closing in October 2023. The Hotel Normandie location remains open, serving one of the best patty melts in the world.
The Palm Steakhouse
The Palm Beverly Hills permanently closed in October. This closure was truly the end of a power lunch era as the Italian steakhouse opened in 1975 in West Hollywood before securing a new location on Canon Drive near Dayton Way in 2014. After a lengthy court battle, the family-owned restaurant was acquired in 2020 by prominent hospitality firm Landry’s, which also owns Del Frisco’s, Morton’s, and Mastro’s. Former owner Bruce Bozzi implied in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that Landry’s lost the Palm’s charm after taking over by changing recipes and reducing portion sizes, claims which a Landry’s spokesperson denied.
Leimert Park’s restaurant Swift Cafe closed in early July. Though it is a loss for the neighborhood, chef and owner Kyndra McCrary has some bright plans on the horizon. McCrary will shift her operations to a space near the forthcoming Intuit Dome — the future home of the LA Clippers — where she’ll customize a space to ultimately function as a daytime cafe that will shift into dinner service in the later hours. McCrary opened her restaurant on Crenshaw Boulevard in 2019 where she developed a menu with fresh ingredients to counter the abundance of fast-food options in South LA.
Shabu Shabu House
In one of the most stunning losses of 2023, Shabu Shabu House closed in Little Tokyo on Friday, October 20, with owners Masako and Yoshinobu Maruyama making the announcement on Instagram. The Little Tokyo spot opened in 1991 inside the Japanese Village Plaza Mall as one of the country’s first shabu-shabu restaurants. Shabu-shabu or hot pot dining culture maintains a ubiquitous presence in Southern California, and it all began at this modest family-operated restaurant. Food writer Nick Solares covered the restaurant in a 2009 article, writing: “Shabu-Shabu House was not always the thriving, bustling business it is today. Maruyama recalls the beginning when things were slow and the clientele was exclusively Japanese. Now it is as diverse as the city of Los Angeles.”
M Café, Melrose’s casual macrobiotic restaurant closed on September 30. The Chaya Restaurant Group was unable to negotiate new lease terms with its landlord giving it no other choice but to close. M Café opened on Melrose near La Brea in 2005 where staff served a menu that emphasized the concept of macrobiotic eating, which is associated with Zen Buddhism and based on the balance of yin and yang. The Chaya Restaurant Group told Eater LA that it hopes to reopen again.
On October 8, Culver City’s daytime plant-based eatery Love Life announced its closure on Instagram. The restaurant opened in May by a group of former Whole Foods executives and chef Brooks McCarty. Even though Love Life lasted for five months, the owners still plan on opening its El Segundo flagship in mid-2024.
Petty Cash Taqueria
Walter Manzke’s modern Mexican restaurant, which opened back in 2013, announced a quick closure on Friday, October 20 without very much warning to longtime fans of the taco and agave destination. Located on Beverly Boulevard in the former Playa space, Manzke’s named the place after rockers Tom Petty and Johnny Cash, serving an array of Baja-inspired seafood and meat tacos in a colorful dining room. The closure marks one of the only times Manzke has closed a restaurant in Los Angeles (the other Petty Cash in Arts District, which had a five-month stint).
Opened for less than a year, this Roman-style pizzeria from CPK co-founder Rick Rosenfeld occupied a prime space in Rick Caruso’s Pacific Palisades development serving both traditional and California-inspired cut slices. Rosenfeld made sure to have flavor combinations like Thai chicken and barbecue chicken inspired by CPK. However, Roca closed without too much fanfare in September, with a representative telling Eater that there are no immediate plans to open the pizzeria at another location.
Pho Redbo Artesia
One of the best places to get beef pho in Southern California, this higher-end Vietnamese restaurant opened an expansion in Artesia along South Street but closed it quietly this year. It’s a little tricky because the signage for Pho Redbo still might be up in Artesia, but the original owner says the restaurants are no longer affiliated. Fans should know that the one at 7725 Garden Grove Boulevard in Garden Grove is the only Redbo left.
Also on the closure list is Studio City’s Mister O’s. Serial restaurateur Michael Cardenas (Innovative Dining Group, Lazy Ox Canteen, and The Robata) opened Mister O’s in 2018. It transformed the Take a Bao space on Ventura Boulevard into a fun midcentury modern room and brought on Laurel Hardware and Tallula’s chef Mario Alberto to prepare a laid-back menu with burgers, and pastas, along with simple grilled meats and vegetables. All of the elements were in place to make Mister O’s a classic LA hangout joint, including bringing on the Restaurant Meadowood’s Rafael Jonathan Barba for the bar program, but it closed in late September.
Fairfax staple Animal closed its doors in early June after a 15-year run, though some of that was marked by a prolonged temporary shutter as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At its height, Animal was one of America’s best restaurants, a fine dining home with a rockstar attitude. The restaurant was among the first in LA to “politely decline” substations to its menu, and to blast loud music into the dining room while pouring unique wines that paired perfectly to the offal-forward dishes Shook and Dotolo put out. Animal singularly reshaped LA’s food scene, and the former cooks, managers, and waitstaff that passed through its doors have gone on to make LA the thriving, modern culinary city we see today.
While technically a closure, chef-owner Carlos Salgado says that his Michelin-starred Orange County restaurant Taco María will be back — someday, some way. After 10 years, Salgado said on social media back in July, it was time to move on from the original space that has served as the backbone to one of Southern California’s most well-known restaurants. What Taco María looks like in the future is still up in the air, but there is no doubt that the Taco María of the past decade has helped to define modern Mexican and Alta California cuisine for much of America.
Despite its big promise as a Bay Area finer dining transplant with lots of seafood served from the hearth, it seems that Angler just never really caught on with Angelenos. The Beverly Center restaurant even underwent a full remodel and menu overhaul before reopening in January 2023, only to close quietly again in July. While critically celebrated, the restaurant ultimately only lasted four challenging years in LA — most of that during the pandemic, too.
Lisa Vanderpump’s namesake West Hollywood restaurant Pump closed in July after a respectable 10 years of operation, putting an end to nearly a year of back and forth about whether or not the reality TV-famous address would stay open. Vanderpump says that she loved running Pump but could not find common ground on a lease renewal with the landlord, though the restaurant was plagued with issues in recent years like unpaid vendor debts and the suspension of its liquor license for a time.
Brazilian-born chef and owner Natalia Pereira made magic when she first opened her Downtown LA restaurant Woodspoon 17 years ago. Pereira was part of the DTLA vanguard, helping to re-center the neighborhood as a place for fantastic restaurants of all price points and sizes. In the years since that first opening, Pereira would go on to become a staple of Downtown, turning out her signature pot pies alongside feijoada and other Brazilian delights. Pereira only closed Woodspoon in late May after suffering a fall on a sidewalk near the restaurant, leaving her with injuries that required her to walk away from the restaurant.
Much like Woodspoon, Nickel Diner was a paragon of mid-2000s dining in Downtown Los Angeles. The modern diner kept its retro aesthetic while catering to an emerging clientele of daytime diners along Main Street. The restaurant was perhaps most famous for its maple bacon doughnut — a big deal, given the popularity of more-is-more cooking at the time — and staple diner fare. Owners Kristen Trattner and Monica May said goodbye to the restaurant on May 28.
While not nearly as dominant in the LA dining discourse as places like Taco María and Animal, Westsiders were still shocked to learn of the quiet closure of Overland Cafe a few weeks back. The Palms-area hangout was for years a destination for jazzy dinners and (more recently) big, laid-back brunches, but the death of owner Mark Sands led to a For-Sale sign going up in the window after 50 good years.
Santa Monica Mexican restaurant Tallula’s closed for good on Sunday, August 20, with ownership saying that the six-year-old project simply wasn’t financially viable any long. “Ultimately it just didn’t work and never found its footing,” the Rustic Canyon group noted in a goodbye post on social media ahead of the final day of service.