Two of L.A.’s most lauded chefs are closing their Michelin-starred restaurant and its downstairs bistro
Manzke and Bicyclette, a duo of restaurants from two of L.A.’s most celebrated chefs, are set to close March 2. It’s the latest in a handful of notable early-2024 closures — and follows roughly 70 shuttered restaurants and bars in 2023.
Walter and Margarita Manzke, whose lauded restaurant République will be the couple’s sole remaining restaurant in L.A., closed Petty Cash Taqueria and Sari Sari Store last year.
Their fine dining restaurant Manzke opened on Pico Boulevard in early 2022 and won a Michelin star later that year; it retained its rating in the coveted restaurant guide in 2023. Below Manzke is Bicyclette, a bistro that opened in 2021 and was named one of L.A.’s 101 best restaurants last year by the L.A. Times. The paper’s restaurant critic Bill Addison recently called Bicyclette “a valentine to the ageless Parisian bistro.”
“Our partners along with Marge and I have decided it is best to close Manzke and Bicyclette,” Walter Manzke told The Times in a statement. “We will continue to operate the two restaurants as we have previously done until March 2. As we work things out and have further details we will be happy to share them with you.”
Manzke declined to provide a reason for the closures, but a representative for the partnering restaurant group Sprout LA told Eater L.A., which first published the closures, that it is “due to financial losses.”
Last year in an interview with The Times, Manzke cited increasing labor, ingredient and even building-upkeep costs as factors that contributed to their decision to close Petty Cash in October. “It was an extremely difficult decision,” he said last fall. “I don’t even know if it was a ‘decision’ because I had to close it. The truth is, financially, it wasn’t in the best place and it has to do with the rising costs across the board and the bottom line.”
In mid-December, they shuttered their quick-and-casual Filipino food stall within Grand Central Market, announcing the closure on Instagram with no notice. Multiple L.A. restaurants have already shuttered in the early days of 2024, including Pearl River Deli, Spartina, Milk Jar and the Dragon.
The pandemic changed the landscape for restaurants, Manzke told The Times last year — not only in the cost of goods and services but also how guests choose to dine. Today they’re more discerning, and more mindful of spending.
“They’re gonna go out and they still spend pretty good money, but they’re more careful about it, it seems, and it makes it extremely difficult to start a new project,” Manzke said. “Not only the cost, it’s just getting it going. I mean, we’ve felt that at Bicyclette and Manzke; it’s new, even, and our names have a little bit of pull, but it’s really challenging to get new business and a new location in these times. Everybody that I know that’s opened a new restaurant says the same thing.”
“Ingenuity is everywhere,” the Michelin Guide wrote of Manzke in 2022, heralding the 10-course tasting menu interwoven with French, Californian and Asian influences.
The Times also recently named Bicyclette one of the region’s most romantic dining destinations.
“Cheese gougères dissolve like an illusion,” Addison wrote. “Sausages veer from nutmeg-scented boudin blanc that springs against the fork to taut, elegantly spiced merguez. Broth for bouillabaisse distills into a piercing seafood liqueur. I watch the team of chefs as a blur of constant motion through a picture window next to the short bar, my preferred perch in the dining room. Do I love it there because Margarita’s jeweled, ruler-precise fruit tarts sit displayed on a counter a few feet away, nearly within arm’s reach? Yes, and Bicyclette’s bartenders are also fine conversationalists.”
In addition to maintaining République in Mid-Wilshire, Walter and Margarita Manzke remain partners in Wildflour, a popular bakery and cafe chain in the Philippines.
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