Church & State is not closing, but it is getting a new owner

Church & State restaurant in downtown Los Angeles has a new owner.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi and her husband, chef Tony Esnault, have decided to sell Church & State, their decade-old French restaurant in the Arts District.

“We sold the restaurant; we’re not closing,” Sarmadi said.

Sarmadi said the new owner bought the concept as well as the Church & State name.


“It will keep operating as Church & State, and many of our staff may continue on with them,” Sarmadi said. She added that she could not reveal the name of the new owner.

One of the earliest restaurants to open in the Arts District as it was getting off the ground, Church & State has been credited with turning the downtown neighborhood into one of the city’s most sought after dining destinations. This is where you ventured for proper crusty baguettes, charcuterie boards and Esnault’s excellent French-California cooking. The restaurant has also been a fixture on The Times’ 101 Restaurants We Love lists.

Sarmadi and Esnault are leaving downtown as they prepare to open Knife Pleat, their French restaurant in the Penthouse area at the South Coast Plaza shopping center in Costa Mesa next month.

“What’s important for us is to focus on doing our best at Knife Pleat,” Sarmadi said. “It’s a somewhat ambitious project, I think, and we have a great partnership over there, and we want to honor that and give it our all.”

This weekend will be the couple’s last at Church & State before handing off the reins.

“We feel like we’ve had an incredible run during an incredible decade at Church & State,” Sarmadi said. “We started something that people said was insane to start and it ended up being great.”

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