Richard Foss

Hudson rises again, new restaurants, temporary spaces become permanent, and other dining news

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A La Carte column for 10 December 2020

Resurrection Of A Hangout: One of the big news items of the week was the sale of Redondo’s Hudson House to Jessica LoIbarra and her husband Bernard, who owned A Basq Kitchen during its multi-year run on the International Boardwalk. You might therefore expect to see Basque items on the menu at their new venture, plus a new name, but the reality is different. The couple bought Hudson House from owner Brooke Williamson because they liked the place as it was and wanted to offer the same experience. Everything remains the same, and they are hiring back as many of the old staff as possible. It was hard for Brooke to sell after a dozen years, since the place is named after her son, but she has been assured that it is in good hands…

Two Openings, Many Delays: Mi Burrito has opened in Redondo at the former Bottle Inn Riviera location, the third location for the small chain. Their style is simple and traditional, focusing on a variety of meats in tacos, chimichangas, tortas, and burritos, with combos and a few soups and salads. I’ve heard good reports about the quality of their offerings but haven’t made it there yet. (1700 Catalina #101, RB, menu at miburritomexicangrillca.com)… In Hermosa, Red & Louie’s Pizzeria is open on Hermosa Avenue in the former Locale 90 space. They’re offering Chicago-style thin crust pizza and Italian beef sandwiches, neither of which is common in the area. (1040 Hermosa Avenue, menu at redandlouies.com) Elsewhere around town, nothing much is happening at several places that had announced plans to open. Rex Steakhouse has gone quiet, and the three restaurants scheduled to open in Manhattan Village seem to have all decided to open next year. That was probably out of concern for the changing business climate, but the folks at Tigre Fuego have a happier reason to delay. As of last week their chef Tyler Gugliotta has a new baby to take care of, so congratulations are in order…

Not Moving, And Not Serving: You may have done a double take as you passed the El Pollo Inka location in Hermosa and saw a big banner announcing a move to Manhattan Beach. Appearances are deceiving, because that banner is actually for the dry cleaner next door, but is closest to their entrance. El Pollo Inka is staying put. You may have also seen a sign for Latter Days Coffee Company on a small building on PCH in South Redondo, and while that actually is their location you shouldn’t run over for a steaming cup of the black stuff any time soon. First of all, they specialize in cold brew, and second, that’s their corporate headquarters and warehouse. They may eventually open a retail location there, but for now you can get their locally brewed coffee from Granny’s Grocery, Whole Foods, or other outlets…

A Tough Break: After being closed for six months, Rok Sushi in Hermosa opened for outdoo, sit-down service with the worst possible timing – their debut was three days before the ban on dining in went into effect. They’re now offering food to go, but as of this writing their website at roksushi.com is down, so they have no online menu. You can call at (310) 798-4765 or stop in to pick up a paper version. Either way, consider them for a meal soon – they’ve been a part of this community for a decade and can use the business…

And Speaking Of Sushi: I had thought that Fan Sea Sushi was a renaming of the previous business at the corner of Rosecrans and Highland but have been advised that it’s actually different ownership and staff. I’m always grateful for tips about local dining, because it’s hard enough to keep up with these things even in normal times (302 Rosecrans, MB) …

Don’t Believe Everything You Read: At times like this it is understandable that restaurants find it difficult to keep up with the changing dining situation, and that is true of their websites and Facebook pages. Please do not get angry if their current opening hours do not match the schedule that was posted weeks or months ago – they may need to go to an outside vendor to change it, which takes time and money. Things have been complicated by delivery services that have taken reservations for items that are no longer offered or for times at which the restaurants are no longer open. Save yourself some disappointment by calling to check first, and be kind to the staff when you do…

Taking Care Of Those Who Serve: Like just about every restaurant, Rock’nFish is offering gift cards as holiday items, but they give a little extra incentive to buy theirs. Fifty percent of every sale goes to support their laid-off staff, which is a kind gesture. The cards are available online at rocknfish.com… The Skechers Foundation is doing something like that on a grand scale, offering a matching grant program of up to half a million dollars to help restaurant staff to avoid poverty and evictions and helping local restaurants pay their bills. You can get more information about their program at skeckers.com/foundation… Other restaurateurs have been mobilizing to try to press the “Restaurants Act” through Congress, which would grant $120 billion to help dining sector owners and workers. This act was proposed in June and passed the House in October but has been bottled up in the Senate along with all other relief measures. This has put some outspoken Republican restaurant owners in a curious position — they are trying to engage the public to send emails supporting something their chosen leaders have repeatedly rejected. Apparently things labeled “socialism” aren’t so scary when it’s your own business that needs help…

Babka Alert!… One of the joys of the Christmas season in Eastern European homes is the babka, a yeast pastry that is given a twist just before baking so that it has a distinctive shape and texture. You can get them, and much more, from an unlikely place: Fishbar in Manhattan Beach. Fishbar has a sister company called Katella Bakery, and their pastries will be available from now until Christmas Eve. Need a gingerbread house? It’s the most affordable house in Manhattan Beach, and you’ll have fun building and decorating one even though it isn’t up to current building codes…

Deal Of The Week: The pizzas at Manhattan House are excellent and made with top quality ingredients, and on Thursdays they’re only ten bucks each. If you have a big family to feed (because we know you wouldn’t be eating pizza with people outside your pod), on Fridays you can buy two and get a third free. Call to order at (310) 574-2277…

Planning Ahead… I was surprised to see an email from Georgia’s on Aviation that implied that their dining patio might be imperiled, and contacted owner Tim Foley to find out who might be trying to close it. It turned out that nobody is, but that the patio was constructed based on a temporary permit due to Covid, and since customers have reacted so positively to the space they’d like to make it permanent. This makes sense, since the location on the Aviation curve made the original lot very dangerous for vehicular traffic, and Georgia’s has leased spaces in a neighboring lot that are easier to navigate and safer. Tim said he needed 100 signatures on his petition, and he had over 200 within five minutes of the email going out. Restaurateurs all over LA are probably weighing the same decision about making temporary patios permanent, because in many cases customers prefer them to indoor spaces. Even those who like to dine inside are likely to be spooked about dining in even after the pandemic restrictions are over, so it’s good to see someone thinking about this. And it felt so good to type that phrase about pandemic restrictions being over, I had to do it again…

And In Closing:  Do you know about any openings, closings, changes, maybe even an event? They have to be online events now, of course, but that could unleash some creativity.  Drop me a note at richard@richardfoss.com ER

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