Photograph Tour of the Influence That Coronavirus Is Having on Los Angeles
The current novel coronavirus pandemic has brought much of the greater Los Angeles area to a standstill. City, county and state officials have issued a Safer at Home mandate that requires individuals to stay in their own homes except for basic needs such as food (yes, restaurant delivery and takeaway are still possible, although dining is not allowed is), grocery shopping and outdoor exercise in the immediate vicinity. District officials have even gone so far as to close public beaches and walking trails due to overcrowding, and just this week Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has even closed farmers’ markets within the city limits pending permits for security measures that would ensure social distancing. Street sales are basically banned again, and most restaurants across Southern California are experiencing record loss of profits and mass layoffs.
The result in its current form is a rather bleak picture of the once impressive restaurant scene in Los Angeles. Restaurants, hotel properties, shopping malls, and other large buildings have all had to be scaled down significantly or closed entirely, while some operators (rightly) worry about break-ins when they’re not there. Currently, LA Mayor Garcetti’s Safer at Home mandate extends to April 19, although the overlapping imperative of California Governor Gavin Newsom has no end date. At the moment life goes on in Los Angeles, it just looks very different.
Kim Prince of Hotville Chicken and a worker hold up a bag of hot Nashville chicken Matthew Kang
Some restaurants, such as Hotville Chicken and the Trap Kitchen Food Truck, continue to stop serving food to locals and those who wish to drive to pick up. At Jitlada in the Thai city of East Hollywood, however, customers no longer hover around a table.
A sign in Jitlada that usually says the waiting list in LA’s Thai city of Matthew Kang
The owner of the Sapp Coffee Shop, Jintana Noochlaor, sits in her Thai Town Restaurant Matthew Kang
Daikokuya in small Tokyo Wonho Frank Lee
Antico and Spoon by H, two of the most talked about restaurants in LA in 2019, managed to stay open through innovation. Antico now makes take-away ice cream and focaccia pizzas, while Spoon by H makes bento boxes of two dozen small items.
Customers wait in line at Antico in East Larchmont Wonho Frank Lee
A contactless drop in front of Spoon at H’s parking lot Wonho Frank Lee
Simplee Boba in South Pasadena Farley Elliott
A warning sign at Tabula Rasa in East Hollywood Farley Elliott
In other, larger locations like the Grand Central Market and the Original Farmers Market, much of the foot traffic has disappeared, although some restaurants continue to offer takeout and delivery to customers. Otherwise, it’s closed booths, overturned chairs, and even duct tape.
Bob’s, still selling donuts, at the Original Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles Wonho Frank Lee
Quiet times at the Original Farmers Market Wonho Frank Lee
The empty sidewalks of Wonho Frank Lee
Dupar is openly Wonho Frank Lee
No seats Wonho Frank Lee
Chairs in front of Belcampo at LA Wonho Frank Lee’s Grand Central Market
Overturned chairs and not much else in Grand Central Market Wonho Frank Lee
In restaurants like Howlin ‘Ray’s in Chinatown and Virgil Village’s Sqirl, much of the restaurant itself is dominated by hungry guests. This is a problem in times of social distancing. That’s why the Sqirl owner Jessica Koslow (see below) has closed the dining / ordering area of the restaurant and instead used a table in front of the door to take orders. She and her team then drop dishes on the sidewalk or run them to cars.
Distribute the product safely at Sqirl in the Virgil Village Wonho Frank Lee
Wonho Frank Lee in the squirl kitchen
Jessica Koslow stands behind a temporary counter in her Sqirl Wonho Frank Lee restaurant in LA
Not everyone has been able to weather the new delivery and take-away-only mandates. Some restaurants are permanently closed, others are in the air and even more are waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic with boarded-up windows and (for now) closed signs.