You know that sinking feeling when you go to one of your favorite restaurants and try to open the door… but nobody’s home? That’s been happening to us a lot lately.
We’ve reviewed a hundred places and a healthy number have been put on the chopping block, so to speak, with little fanfare. Some businesses had it coming—Old San Juan‘s no fun mofungo in Atwater—but it’s always sad to see a previously bustling space stripped down to just the stainless steel accoutrements. When all the furniture and decor is gone and you notice every cracked tile and poorly painted sideboard, that’s when it really sinks in: this venture was a losing proposition from the very start, but the owner had a dream. Hopefully, as the sign outside the now vacant Pitfire Pizza at Main and 2nd Street says, they’re “moving on to their next adventure.”
But some restaurants, the less I learn about them the better. Glazed Donut Bistro comes to mind. We were lured there in 2014 on a rare jaunt through WeHo as a group with the promise of artisanal fried dough—and experimenting with sauces. I distinctly remember reading a breathless review on Thrillist where, to emphasize the sheer awesomeness of the Glazed experience, sentences were in all-caps and answers to the question “What does it taste like?” were extremely unhelpful (sample descriptions: “Magic” “Brunch. But way better.” and “The best morning ever.” Go fuck yourself, Jeff Miller).
Glazed Donut Bistro closed in just a few months amid dramatic accusations of poor quality control and downright shady behavior. A sign was posted on the door stating that over $8,000 in back rent was owed. For a business with the tag line “Donuts for Grownups” this was a decidedly irresponsible way to go out.
I’ve frequented spots where the writing was on the wall, but I refused to believe that the inevitable would happen. I just depended on the restaurant so much in times of need that I couldn’t handle another loss. When it’s a cuisine, like mediterranean, that’s hard to come by in my neighborhood it tends to really sting. So, a must bid a fond farewell to Hummus Republic. Your gyros were my heroes, and it hurts to think that your hummus is no mas. It’s falawful—now I have three “free wrap” punch cards in my sock drawer that I can’t use.
This Hummus Republic location (225 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, 90014) is cursed. The 7th Street Cafe moved in almost immediately. But before you could say “chilaquiles,” it was gone.
This is a record for a business closing—the Pollos Hermanos pop up lasted longer than 7th Street Cafe did.
And then there’s Shophouse Kitchen. Oh boy. I ate there once a few years ago, right before an 8:00 p.m. screening of “Inherent Vice,” and it rocked my stomach so much I thought I was watching the 4D Experience. I even started a Shophouse review for Two Men Chew (a dusty draft lingers on my laptop). My procrastination was predictive; my belly had PTSD. Bye bye, Shophouse. Or, as its maudlin homepage open letter states: “Goodbye. We’re closed. Like, forever closed.” Like, no shit. Wake up and smell the sriracha, motherfuckers.
One way to look at this constant failure (and renewal, and possibly more failure) is that it’s just a microcosm of the global ebb and flow of commerce. Supply and demand. So many promising hooks to reel in potential droves of customers—Glazed Bistro had shrimp po’ boys stuffed in a long john; Pitfire had the finest pizza and beer within a five-block radius; Shophouse had corporate entitlement and cultural appropriation—but once the novelty wears off and the punch cards are redeemed, we move on to the next big thing.
I like to think that Two Men Chew had a role in this evolution. One review and you’re out of business? You’re goddamn right, Meatzilla (formerly Meat Head!, formerly Dave’s Grill, formerly Natural Urban something or other). We’ve got the power. You better get those pizza buns ready, Two Men Chew is coming—it’s time to get some fresh meat at 646 S. Main St.