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The Restaurant Group Behind a Popular Downtown Hotel Closes Five Restaurants, Lays Off 100 Unionizing Employees

Plus, Kevin Hart’s plant-based chain is on the rise, a Peruvian Valentine’s Day celebration, and more

Hotel Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles in 2021.
Hotel Figueroa in 2021.
Courtesy of Hotel Figueroa
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.

The five restaurants inside Downtown’s historic Hotel Figueroa will close this month. The Los Angeles Times reports that Noble 33 (Taco Madera, Casa Madera), the third-party restaurant group that operates the hotel’s bar and restaurants, announced the news in December — six days after its workers notified management that they intended to form a union. The report alleges that issues between Noble 33 and its food and beverage workers began when it assumed restaurant operations in 2021. Employees claim management did not backfill positions when workers quit and expected employees to handle more tasks without additional pay, among other grievances. Bar Magnolia, Cafe Fig, the Cafeteria, La Casita at Driftwood, and Sparrow Italia will soon cease operations, leaving approximately 100 food and beverage employees out of work.

Through Unite Here Local 11, the hotel’s restaurant and bar workers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in January 2024 that accused Noble 33 of suppressing labor organizing among its staff. According to the report, “Noble 33 contends that its contract with Hotel Figueroa stipulates that the unionization of food and beverage employees would trigger a kill clause between both parties.” However, Hotel Figueroa and Unite Here Local 11 deny this claim.

Chef Keith Corbin at Watts community festival

The Watts Culture Fest is happening on February 17 and includes sneaker painting workshops, music, games, an area dedicated to roller skating and skateboarding, and plenty of food. Watts native and Alta chef Keith Corbin will also be at the free, family-friendly event. Head to the Watts Labor Community Action Community center anytime from noon to 6 p.m. Full details are here.

A Heritage follow-up in Long Beach

Longbeachize reports that Heritage chef Philip Pretty, who received Long Beach’s first Michelin star in 2023, will open a second restaurant with sister Lauren Pretty called Olive & Rose in the former City Center Motel.

A big closure on Third Street Promenade

Toddrickallen reports that Kitchen United Mix on Santa Monica’s touristy Third Street Promenade is closed. A hand-written sign stating “closed until further notice” was posted on the outside of the former Gallery Food Hall.

Kevin Hart’s vegan chain is thriving

A recent feature in Nation’s Restaurant News revealed that all is well at Hart House, actor Kevin Hart’s plant-based fast-food chain that opened in 2022 and has four locations in Southern California. According to CEO Andy Hooper, sales are up, expansion beyond SoCal is on the horizon, and franchising isn’t in the cards.

A Peruvian Valentine’s Day dinner

From now until February 17, West LA’s Qusqo Bistro will prepare a $60 dinner for two for Dia de Amor y Amistad (a day of love and friendship). The meal includes a mocktail or cocktail for two, salad, plantains, and a choice of entree (paella or lomo saltado) prepared with or without meat. Call for a reservation: 310-312-3800.

Hotel Figueroa - In the Unbound Collection by Hyatt

939 South Figueroa Street, , CA 90015 (213) 627-8971 Visit Website