Come and ravage us: Scenes from the fire sale at one of L.A.’s hottest restaurants
At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the line to enter All Day Baby in Silver Lake trailed around the block, even though the sign on its door said “closed/cerrado.”
People had turned out to support the modern American diner, which opened in late November, for the last time in its foreseeable future. The day before, managing partner Lien Ta had posted on Instagram that the space would host “Baby’s Pop-Up Bodega” to sell the remaining food at the restaurant and its older sibling, Here’s Looking at You in Koreatown.
“All of us at ADB + HLAY are now without jobs and with an uncertain future, and trust me, that will live on my conscience forever. (We can’t even get the unemployment website to work.)” Ta wrote in the post. “So!! Instead of Gelson’s or Vons or whomever’s aisles have been ravaged, come and ravage us. Please.”
The sale included smoked half-chickens, pasta and pasta sauce, flats of eggs, biscuits and other desserts made by pastry chef Thessa Diadem.
We practiced social distancing in line, mostly staring into our phones. Jill Blackledge, who works in the film industry, stood behind me. “I was hoping for pastries but I don’t think they have any left,” she said. “Is it even dumb that I’m out?”
Lawrence Chu, a small investor in the restaurant, learned about the event on Instagram. He came hoping for biscuits.
Me too. My review of All Day Baby was published in The Times on Sunday, hours before the sweeping mandate to close all Los Angeles restaurants (save for delivery and takeout operations) to help quell the spread of the novel coronavirus. I’d kicked off the piece glowing about All Day Baby’s biscuit sandwich layered with sausage, egg, cheese and strawberry jam.
The biscuits, not surprisingly, disappeared fast and early.
Only a handful of customers were allowed inside at a time. Tables had been pushed to the edges of a room; the scene reminded me of a bake sale in an elementary school classroom. We were given the option of putting on gloves and selecting our items or having a staffer go through the room with us.
I recognized ingredients from the menu. There were containers full of pulled-apart Brussels sprouts that would have been fried and tossed with brown butter and miso butter; green tomatoes were meant to have been dressed in mayo, oregano and white vinegar.
I bought a baguette, limes, fresh thyme and dill, a couple of bottles of wine and some prepared foods. Both Ta and her business partner, chef Jonathan Whitener, were on hand.
“We just couldn’t make enough money on takeout to support our businesses financially,” Ta said at the register. “I hope government assistance — moratoriums on rent and taxes — comes quickly.”
Her smile showered sunshine on each customer, even as the space emptied quickly. “Oh, this is my favorite,” Ta said, ringing up some smoked whitefish salad. Her forehead creased with mixed emotion. “If you have some hot sauce, go home and put some on this to make it extra delicious.”
The line was shorter by the time I left at noon, and soon there would be no line at all.
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