Surviving the Shutdown: Alta Adams reopens, with fried chicken to order and a sliding payment scale

Fried chicken with sides of collard greens, glazed carrots, candied yam gratin, rice and beans at Alta Adams, which is reopening for takeout.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdown have left many restaurants uncertain about their future. As they grapple with new realities, we asked some of them to share their stories.

Alta Adams reopens Thursday after a seven-week hiatus, with fried chicken, braised oxtails and a new sliding-scale payment option that allows diners to choose a price they can afford to pay, including nothing at all.

Executive chef Keith Corbin and his business partner, chef Daniel Patterson, opened Alta Adams in West Adams in 2018, serving “California soul food” to a neighborhood that didn’t have a lot of restaurants. It has a lot fewer now, and so getting Alta Adams’ doors open again was a priority for both men and their staff.


Alta Adams’ new menu, available for pickup only on Tock, will have two options. One is a four-course Alta at Home meal for $35 featuring the dishes the restaurant is known for, such as braised oxtails, collard greens and coconut cake. (Read Bill Addison’s 2019 review.) The second is a “family meal” with the sliding-scale option — diners are given discount codes and can choose to pay $20, $10, $5 or zero per meal — which will focus on the grain bowls Corbin has been developing for his second restaurant, Louella’s Cali Soul Kitchen.

Chefs Keith Corbin, left, and Daniel Patterson are reopening their Alta Adams restaurant, with takeout and groceries available.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

“This will be an opportunity for us to do recipe development and for us to get a sense of what people think about the dishes,” Corbin said of the family meals. Louella’s, which is going into Culver City’s Citizen Public Market, is now on hold indefinitely due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Takeout add-ons will include cocktails, beer and wine, as well as a grocery section including staples such as flour, eggs, butter, rice, milk — and, yes, toilet paper. Corbin and Patterson also are reopening Adams Coffee Shop, the little cafe next door to the restaurant. There, folks can get coffee as well as pick up the takeout meals and groceries. Boxes of fresh produce from the farmers market the chefs frequent also will be available.

“We’ll be a corner store,” said Patterson, albeit one with well-monitored social distancing rules.

“You have a community that can’t get out much,” Corbin said of the city’s stay-at-home order. “We’re looking to bring the product to the neighborhood.” The grocery component will build slowly, and the Alta at Home menu will gradually expand to include new dishes.


“It gives me life again,” said Corbin, who with his crew cooked a fried chicken feast for the nurses at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last week. “I get to get back in the kitchen.”