The Spot vegetarian restaurant in Hermosa Beach closes after four decades

Tonya with daughters, Amber and Tai, and granddaughter Royalty. Photo by Bethany Willetts

by Bethany Willetts and Kevin Cody

Monday morning, The Spot restaurant owner Tonya Beaudet emailed her loyal customers: “As most of you know, we  have been struggling since COVID began. Today will be our last day to be open. Thanks so much for 43 years of food and fun. Love Tonya.”

“It’s time,” she said in a phone interview from her home that day. Though the restaurant was so busy it ran out of food, she did not want to go into work.

Heath Francis began working at The Spot as a waiter when he was a teenager. Photo by Kevin Cody

When Beaudet, and her late husband, Maurice, took over The Spot in south Hermosa Beach in 1981, it was one of three vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Los Angeles. The other two were The Golden Temple in the old Farmers Market, and Follow your heart Cafe, in the Valley.

In recent years, the choice of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the Beach Cities, alone, has expanded to include lil’ Vegerie, Green Temple, Pura Vita, Veggie Grill, and Grain Cafe.

But despite the competition, The Spot continued to attract old and new customers with Beaudet’s original menu, based on her Southern grandmother’s use of beans, collard greens, and whole grains. 

Customers spoke reverentially about The Spot’s savory sauce, served generously over the savory spud, presto pasta, and steamers (vegetables and brown rice.) The Spot Veggie Burger was featured in the Travel Channel’s “Hamburger Paradise Round-up.” Their mainstay comfort food, the Mushroom Walnut Loaf, was Sir Paul McCartney’s go-to take-out order. 

McCartney became a Spot regular when the Beatles performed at the Forum, and Beaudet would hang out backstage with McCartney’s son James.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, The Spot, like other restaurants, survived on take out and government subsidies. 

Last spring, as the pandemic receded, and her business began to recover, she received a $30,000 utility bill. She had thought the bill, accrued during COVID, would be forgiven, but subsequently learned the forgiveness applied to homeowners, but not business owners.

The repayment program, coupled with her regular utility bill, totaled $4,000 a month.

“I started to fall behind on rent. When you have to choose between keeping the power on or paying the rent, you pay to keep the power on,” she said.

“My landlords are kind people. They gave me so many breaks. My rent was already ridiculously low. They deserve the opportunity to remodel and get the same rent other Hermosa landlords get,” Beaudet said.

Beadeut was 26 in 1981, when she and her husband bought The Spot. They planned to keep the restaurant until its lease ran out, in three years. Her chef Louis has been with her 39 years.

“My staff is like family, and I love my customers. But it’s time to move on,” she said.

Beaudet said she’d like to open another restaurant, but has  no immediate plans. ER


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