From Pump to Sweet Lady Jane: Why so many L.A. restaurants are closing

A pedestrian, reflected in the display window at Sweet Lady Jane, walks past the shuttered bakery in Santa Monica
Beloved bakery Sweet Lady Jane unexpectedly closed its six locations on New Year’s Day, citing a lack of a sales. However, the company has been embroiled in a class action lawsuit for the past year over wage abuse allegations.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Saturday, Jan. 27. Here’s what you need to know to start your weekend:

    Why some L.A. restaurants have closed for good

    If you love to eat out, Los Angeles is the perfect city. If you own a restaurant? Not so much.

    Some of the region’s most cherished operations and most anticipated openings have closed in the last year or so, my colleague Stephanie Breijo reported earlier this month. More than 65 notable restaurants have closed in the L.A. area alone.


    Why is it so hard to run a restaurant in L.A.?

    “Inflation of prices for ingredients, utilities and rent, labor costs, staff shortages, business kneecapped by the entertainment industry’s months of strikes, lack of government aid and a saturated dining market, to name a handful of reasons,” Stephanie wrote.

    Then there were the post-pandemic shutdowns and pivots, and the increasing cost of food. “While the decades-high growth rates are in the past,” according to the National Restaurant Assn., “average food prices are still well above pre-pandemic levels” as of November 2023.

    Decades-old eateries have shuttered for good

    Cupid’s Hot Dogs in Northridge, founded nearly 80 years ago, closed at the end of December. But all is not lost if you’re a big fan. You can still eat at its Winnetka, Simi Valley, Fullerton or Orlando locations.

    Fairfax’s beloved Diamond Bakery, another restaurant that opened nearly eight decades ago, closed in early December, citing difficulty sustaining business in the area. But an acquisition by Bread Los Angeles is ensuring that Diamond’s baked goods still will be available at local delis such as Nate ’n Al’s.


    Reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump closed Pump, the jewel of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” empire, after a decade of serving customers. Vanderpump blamed “untenable” rent increases for the decision.

    But you can still find a Pumptini and a Pump burger at sibling spot TomTom.

    Perhaps one of the biggest closures was Sweet Lady Jane, beloved for its famous triple berry cake and celebrity clientele. After 35 years in business, the bakery closed all six of its L.A. locations on New Year’s Eve. Management cited a lack of sales that prevented it from paying its “treasured employees.” But a class-action lawsuit filed by an employee who alleged wage theft tells a different story.

    Unfortunately, those aren’t the only ones. Here’s the full list of L.A. area restaurants that have recently closed.

    The week’s biggest stories

    People hold signs supporting presidential candidate Nikki Haley
    Nikki Haley supporters hold signs at the presidential candidates’ New Hampshire primary watch party at Grappone Conference Center in Concord, N.H.
    (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


    Crime and courts

    Weather and environment

    Oscars 2024

    Israel-Hamas War

    More big stories


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    Column One

    Column One is The Times’ home for narrative and longform journalism. Here’s a great piece from this week:

    A painted wooden sign with the name and address of a house, on a fence outside the house
    (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

    There are no street addresses in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Some say it’s time to change. Residents in a coastal California town do not have addresses, preferring to meet their neighbors at the post office. But it can be hard to get packages delivered, and some worry whether emergency responders can find them.

    More great reads

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    For your weekend

    A mural shows Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant looking down at his daughter Gianna, both with angel wings
    A mural of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna on the exterior of Hardcore Fitness L.A. on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles.
    (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

    Going out

    Staying in

    L.A. Affairs

    Get wrapped up in tantalizing stories about dating, relationships and marriage.

    Hands type out messages on a laptop.
    (Abby Ouellette / For The Times)

    I said, ‘I love you.’ She quickly replied, ‘As a friend, right?’ I started a conversation with her in a chat room. And after meeting up with her in person, our first kiss sealed our fate.

    Have a great weekend, from the Essential California team.


    Kevinisha Walker, multiplatform editor
    Karim Doumar, head of newsletters

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