How L.A. Restaurants Are Staying Afloat Amid Coronavirus

3:15 PM 3/19/2020

by Ramona Saviss

With the closures of restaurants and bars (in addition to other public spaces), eateries and boites are scrambling to stay in business with creative strategies — from turning into markets to delivery options and more.

Crossroad Kitchen's vegan fresh pasta kits (left) and the butcher shop at Gwen
Crossroad Kitchen's vegan fresh pasta kits (left) and the butcher shop at Gwen
Wonho Frank Lee

Power lunches are no longer a thing (unless virtual) as social distancing is the name of the game with the rise of coronavirus. With usual industry spots like Soho House and Majordomo closed until further notice, restaurant owners such as e.baldi’s Edoardo Baldi and Spago’s Wolfgang Puck are taking to social media to ask patrons for their support for their (first time) takeout menus. Other locations such as Terroni and Tesse are taking the grocery story route, opening up provision markets to help keep afloat but also aid their surrounding community looking for groceries and even toilet paper. Speaking of toilet paper, naturally, spots like Blue Plate Oysterette are offering rolls along with other incentives at other places with to-go orders. It's also important to note that it's more beneficial to restaurants if patrons order directly from them rather than third-party delivery partners who typically take a cut.

Here are the interesting and inventive ways L.A. restaurants are staying open amid COVID-19 concerns.

  • Restaurants Transform Retail Spaces Into Markets for Pantry Items

    Lunch dishes will include roast chicken with harissa, while dinner brings lamb ribs with leek ash yogurt.

    Adding to the delivery and take-out craze are places like chef Curtis Stone's Gwen, which is known for its fine dining but also adjacent butcher shop. One can shop for vacuum-sealed meats such as Creekstone hangar steak, housemade charcuterie and Spanish chorizo, in addition to pantry items including plum preserves, apple butter, Fresno chili sauce, Thai hot sauce, soups, sauces, pasta and fresh produce. The shop will also have wine and beer bottles on hand. Hot delivery dishes (plates like tuna and meatball sandwiches, lamb ribs with leek ash yogurt and roast chicken with harissa) are offered via Caviar for the first time, and the butcher shop is open daily from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Gwen's sister restaurant, the Beverly Hills hot spot Maude, will also convert into a market that will sell produce among other to-go items and Gwen's meats for the Westside crowd.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    New at the Gwen market today: oyster chowder, kimchi, and something sweet.

    A post shared by Gwen (@gwenla) on

    At all Zinc Café & Market locations (Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar and Downtown’s Arts District), the marketplace will be stocked with grocery items so that the surrounding communities have day-to-day products. Though they note that prices are subject to change and to check their social media for updates, the markets will have toilet paper and paper towel rolls, butter, shredded mozzarella cheese, eggs, milk, potatoes, onion, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lemons, limes, burger buns, olive oil and pasta. Those items plus pre-packaged prepared foods are available for curbside pickup to minimize physical interaction or delivery via Ezcater, UberEats and Caviar. What's more, the restaurant will provide a free roll of toilet paper to all delivery orders within a 15-mile radius of the nearest location. 

    Beverly Boulevard's Porridge and Puffs has transformed into a marketplace (both brick-and-mortar and online) offering at-home meal kids, self-care products and more (think: fresh cut flowers, honey face scrubs, organic lip balms, Koda Farms rice, pickles, jams, shrubs and other handmade goods). The focus for the retail space is making creative "care packages" while social distancing. Daily, 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

    While Venice's Charcoal has closed, they've opened up a marketplace for produce, meats and seafood available for pre-order and pickup. Pre-paying is available online and if paying with cash, exact change is needed. Orders must be placed by 11 p.m. the night before for pickup the next day. Available daily 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. until supplies last.

    Tesse restaurant and its adjacent wine bar has also been converted into a provisions market that will sell fresh produce, bread, meats, cheeses, beer, wine and toilet paper, naturally, from their Sunset Boulevard storefront.

    Adding to the marketplace craze, Jeremy Fox's Birdie G's Sundries shop sells everything from their "cupboard" including Birdie's ketchup and other condiments to rubs, bread crumbs and chili powder, among other things.

    Over at Terroni, which recently opened up next-door global markets, Dopolavorola, at both of their locations, they're selling bread, milk, eggs, cheese, fresh produce, pasta (dried and fresh), canned goods, wine and more. With both locations open until 8:30 p.m., the shops are asking customers to shop local and avoid the big crowds at the larger grocery stores.

    Shopping local smaller non-chain grocery stores was top of mind for Brandie Rossi, the former Erewhon regional director of nutrition who recently opened Pantry L.A., a wellness-oriented provisions store with biodynamic local farm produce, fish, meat, coffee, tonics, hemp and beauty products. Rossi decided to set up shop earlier than planned to help alleviate the stress on locals during the pandemic with food delivery, grab-and-go items and priority service for the elderly. 

  • Meal Kits, Takeout and Delivery Options Offered for the First Time

    For the first time in 75 years, Apple Pan — known for their classic burgers and fries (and being cash-only in their diner-type setting) — is offering delivery of their entire menu from their crowd-favorite hickory burger to fries and housemade pies. What's more? They now take credit card, too. (11 a.m.-9 p.m.)

    Tal Ronnen's A-list loved Crossroads Kitchen launched home meal kits for guests, delivered via Doordash, Grubhub and Postmates. The kits contain the all-vegan ingredients to make Crossroads' signature dishes from tagliatelle bolognese ($28) to chickpea marsala ($24) at home. Each kit ($8-$30) features enough food to serve two people and could be refrigerated for three to four days. Keeping their staff's well-being in mind at this time, the restaurant will also add a 15 percent service charge on all orders. Orders could be picked up and delivered (for a $25 fee) daily, (12 p.m.-6 p.m.) 

    Another power lunch hotspot, Wolfgang Puck's Spago, is offering takeout and delivery for the first time with their version of meal kits. The over-the-top family meal package (menu items change based on what’s in stock) includes root vegetable and farro minestrone soup; farmer’s market chopped spring vegetable salad; Puck’s famous off-menu smoked salmon pizza with Osetra caviar; handmade sweet pea agnolotti topped with fresh black truffles; and a choice of entrée (Ora King salmon, UDSA prime filet mignon, roasted half Jidori chicken, or vegan spaghetti squash with green Thai curry). Sides include warm white asparagus, spring vegetables, steamed Jasmine rice and Yukon gold potato puree, and desserts include fresh baked cookies, bread pudding and farmer’s market berries — all for $49 per person. There is also a kid’s menu with rigatoni, organic Jidori chicken fingers and cheese pizza. There are also bottles of wine to go, gelato and sorbert pints plus bake-at-home dessert options. (Daily from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. and 6 p.m.-9 p.m.)

    Over at Chateau Hanare, once can order bento-boxes to go or delivery through Caviar, Postmates and UberEats. Prices start at $25 with a choice of Jidori chicken, grilled yellowtail collar and fried chicken. Even Pasadena’s fine-dining Alexander’s Steakhouse is introducing online ordering and delivery for items including their signature Wagyu steak.

    Jar is introducing cocktail kits available for pickup, curbside and free delivery (within 10 miles of the Beverly Boulevard mainstay). The kits include margarita ($60) with a bottle of Maestro Dobel Tequila that could come with fried jalapenos (by request only); a “naughty” martini with a bottle of Purity vodka ($60) and 10 blue cheese house-stuffed olives; plus a Serengeti kit ($56) with a bottle of Rough Rider rye whiskey and a house-made lemon-ginger mix. All bottles are also available on their own, as well. To pair with the booze on hand, the restaurant will also have a to-go menu, wines and boxed dinners for four.

    Bar Restaurant is also offering meal kits in the form of boxes that come with a bottle of wine, protein and ingredients for side dishes.Choose from the meat, vegetarian or fish box, which will be pre-made with fresh organic produce, dry pastas, proteins and dairy plus a bottle of wine (optional). The boxes come with recipe ideas if requested and are available for order and pickup daily between 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    Chef Adam Perry Lang's APL is shifting to provide to-go menu options with a focus on comfort food — think matzoh ball soup and braised beef stew. Available for no-contact delivery (within a one-mile radius) and curbside pickup.

    Known for their famous AN's garlic noodles, the An family is offering a to-go menu featuring Crustacean's signature dishes plus kitchen essentials to help patrons with a daily meal plan. For the first time, the noodles plus roasted Dungeness crab will be available for takeout with a "black glove" delivery and curbside service, where employees will wear black rubber gloves to ensure the cleanliness of each order. The to-go menu is available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

    Similar to Crustacean's black glove service, Innovative Dining Group is introducing white glove service. The IDG restaurants Sushi Roku, Katana and BOA Steakhouse are available on almost all delivery platforms and are starting to incentivize customers to come by for curbside pickup Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. To sweeten the deal, for pick-up orders of $50 or more, guests will receive a $20 gift card for dine-in service when the restaurants re-open.

    And for Top Chef fans, all of the alum who own L.A. restaurants are offering takeout and delivery as well — including Antonia Lofaso's Scopa Italian Roots (which will also have a Scopa Marketplace with pantry items), Dakota Weiss' Sweetfin Poke, Elia Aboumrad's Cassell's, Mei Lin's Nightshade and Michael Voltagio's STRFSH, among others.

     

     

  • Discounts for To-Go Customers

    To incentivize patrons who are opting to stay in and make their own meals, industry-loved spots like Nerano and BG are offering 15 percent off for takeout orders. ... Similarly, all Katsuya locations will be giving 20 percent off for in-store pickups and free delivery through third-party partners. The sushi hot spot will also offer a curbside menu ($50 per person) plus 20 percent off when ordered directly through the restaurant. ... Cassell's Hamburgers will be offering 10 percent off all phone-in pick-up orders at both Downtown and Koreatown locations. ... H.wood group will be offering 30 percent off pizzas and bowls at their restaurants The Nice Guy and Petite Taqueria, respectively. ... The owners of Redbird, which closed doors on March 15, are incentivizing customers to purchase gift cards where 100 percent of sales through the end of the month will go to financially support the restaurant's employees.