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Ma’am Sir, Charles Olalia’s Filipino restaurant in Silver Lake, has closed for good

A server takes a table's order at Ma'am Sir in 2019.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Ma’am Sir, one of L.A.'s most celebrated modern Filipino restaurants, has closed permanently, the latest casualty of an ongoing crisis in the restaurant industry fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chef Charles Olalia made the announcement this afternoon, thanking guests and staff for their support.

“It was a pleasure to have welcomed you once upon a time. There will come a time when I can welcome you again. There will come a time when I can celebrate your birthdays with you. There will come a time I will meet your babies again,” Olalia wrote. “As generic as it sounds, I may have closed this chapter, but I gained family in you all.”

Olalia, a fine-dining veteran who left his position at Patina to launch a casual lunch counter called Rice Bar, opened Ma’am Sir in 2018 in partnership with restaurateurs Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi. The restaurant, with its lush tropical décor and menu of soulful and inventive Filipino dishes — crispy lumpia topped with fresh uni, sizzling pork sisig and oxtail kare-kare — immediately found itself at the forefront of a growing wave of modern Filipino eateries in L.A., including Lasa, Spoon & Pork and Big Boi Filipino.

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Ma’am Sir had been named one of the best new restaurants in America by GQ and twice listed on the Times’ 101 Best Restaurants list, developing a reputation as one of the most exciting destinations for Filipino cooking in a city that craved more representation.

After the arrival of the pandemic, Olalia and the staff at Ma’am Sir began offering bento boxes and cocktails to go, and more recently opened a patio area for outdoor seating. Ultimately, the pivots were not enough to sustain the business.

Ma’am Sir joins a growing list of restaurants (including Bäco Mercat, Trois Mec, Here’s Looking at You and Jun Won) that, faced with dwindling government support, shrinking sales and a once-in-a-generation economic crisis that has shown few signs of abating, have been forced to close their doors for good this year.

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