Author Archives: Brigham Yen

Joe’s Pizza Bringing “A Slice of NY” to Spring Street in Downtown LA

Joe's Pizza known for their thin crust New York-style pizza is opening near 6th/Spring in Downtown LA

Joe’s Pizza known for their thin crust New York-style pizza is opening near 6th/Spring in Downtown LA

One of the most dense residential neighborhoods in Los Angeles is the Historic Core in Downtown LA. So what better location for a Joe’s Pizza than right here in LA’s most urban neighborhood where even a New Yorker can feel right at home. Last night, a bright red “coming soon” construction wall announcing Joe’s arrival went up near 6th and Spring in the heart of the Historic Core. Replacing a shuttered dry cleaner adjacent to the popular Syrup Dessert, this will be the fifth Joe’s location in LA with four others in Hollywood, Sunset Strip, Century City, and Sherman Oaks.

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Chef Agostino Sciandri Opening VESPAIO at Luxury Rental Emerson in Downtown LA

Rendering courtesy of the upcoming Vespaio at The Emerson on Bunker Hill (Click to enlarge)

Rendering courtesy of the upcoming Vespaio at The Emerson on Bunker Hill (Click to enlarge)

Bunker Hill is really on the cusp of achieving some great critical mass. Not only is the very much anticipated Broad museum opening in late 2015, but one of downtown’s most luxurious new residential properties, The Emerson, opened earlier this month with its first resident move-ins (take a lovely tour inside via Curbed LA). Developed by Related California, the upscale 19-story rental property located adjacent to The Broad is chock-full of amenities from a penthouse lounge with an outdoor terrace to a state-of-the-art media room and library next to a fully equipped fitness center with steam and yoga rooms. Now Emerson residents will have one more thing to brag about: Renowned Italian Chef Agostino Sciandri will be opening Vespaio on the ground floor of The Emerson.

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Now Open: Elabrew Blends Coffee and Art in Downtown LA Historic Core

Elabrew Coffee from Santa Monica has opened their second location in Downtown LA near 6th/Los Angeles St

Elabrew Coffee from Santa Monica has opened their second location in Downtown LA near 6th/Los Angeles St

For the longest time, it seemed like Spring Street was having all the coffee fun with so many cafes opening up over the last few years from indie sweet spots like Spring for Coffee and Tierra Mia to corporate Starbucks. Now, add another one to the list of growing coffee shops in the Historic Core, this time a couple blocks over near 6th/Los Angeles St. Elabrew Coffee just opened earlier this month and is already the new neighborhood go-to cafe for local residents looking for something new to try. Located directly across the street from Hero Shop (where you get the “perfect banh mi“), this is Elabrew’s second and funkier location with the original one still in Santa Monica near the future Bergamot Expo Line station.

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La Brea Bakery Coming to Macy’s at The Bloc in Downtown LA

La Brea Bakery is planning to open at The Bloc on the second level (Photo: The Bloc Downtown LA)

La Brea Bakery is planning to open at The Bloc on the second level (Photo: The Bloc Downtown LA)

Since it was announced last year, many downtowners have been following with so much excitement the amazing redevelopment of The Bloc in Downtown LA. Formerly known as Macy’s Plaza, the reopening of the shopping center in late 2015 will be one of the most highly anticipated developments in Downtown LA’s urban renaissance, mostly because it sits in such a strategic location in the heart of the Financial District. If it remained shitty, it would continue to stifle downtown’s potential. If it’s successful at drawing people after it reopens, it obviously will do wonders for the continued revitalization of Downtown LA. And a very important part of what will make The Bloc attractive is the extensive remodeling work that will go into the Macy’s department store, including the exciting addition of a La Brea Bakery — a Southern California icon.

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Skingraft Opens New Flagship Store in Downtown LA at 8th/Spring

Skingraft's new flagship store is now open at 8th and Spring in Downtown LA

Skingraft’s new flagship store is now open at 8th and Spring in Downtown LA

Relocating to a higher profile location, Skingraft opened its new beautiful flagship store last week at the corner of 8th and Spring on the edge of the Fashion District. The LA-based designer, Jonny Cota, had opened his first store in the Banco Popular building near 4th and Main (up the street) in 2006, and since then, has grown in stature within the fashion world showing for the second time at New York Fashion Week. The “LA leather laden brand” as Racked LA calls it has become increasingly popular with the celeb set including Rihanna and A$AP Rocky.

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Plan Check Now Open in Downtown LA’s Growing City West District

Plan Check opens its third LA location in Downtown LA at 1111 Wilshire (Photo: DYLAN + JENI)

Plan Check opens its third LA location in Downtown LA at 1111 Wilshire (Photo: DYLAN + JENI)

City West is one of Downtown LA’s least talked about neighborhoods due to its quiet (read: nothing to do) nature. However, things are definitely changing for the better as new projects like the residential mixed-user, 1111 Wilshire, and the Good Samaritan Hospital expansion are adding more urban bulk to the fledgling neighborhood-in-the-making. And now the latest addition to City West is Plan Check, an exciting new restaurant that opens today on Monday on the ground floor of the aforementioned 1111 Wilshire resi-complex. The new downtown location is the third one for the restaurant, which is the brainchild of Terry Heller who has two other Plan Check locations: one on Sawtelle and another on Fairfax near Canters Deli. The downtown location was announced in April 2013.

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Long Awaited Tender Greens Officially Opens Downtown LA Location (Dinner Served)

The long awaited Tender Greens is now finally open in Downtown LA at 6th/Olive near Pershing Square

The long awaited Tender Greens is now finally open in Downtown LA at 6th/Olive near Pershing Square

Wow! First announced in February 2013 almost two years ago, the very much anticipated Tender Greens is now finally open in Downtown LA! Although it soft opened this past Friday, the first official opening day will be tomorrow on Monday, October 20. Due to the historic nature of the space inside the 1908 PacMutual Building at 6th/Olive, many construction delays postponed the opening of the restaurant by almost 10 months. Downtown residents and office workers have been waiting eagerly for Tender Greens — known for their simple, healthy and delicious menu — to open, helping to activate once sleepy 6th Street in the Financial District into the next eatery hotspot. The great news everyone who lives and works downtown should know is that the new downtown location will be open for dinner. I repeat, Tender Greens in Downtown LA will be open for dinner!

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D’Vine Wine Cellar Offers Modern Tuscan Escape Beneath O-Hotel in Downtown LA

A new wine lounge called D'Vine Wine Cellar is now open at the O Hotel in South Park in Downtown LA

A new wine lounge called D’Vine Wine Cellar is now open at the O Hotel in South Park in Downtown LA

If you’ve passed by the O Hotel recently in South Park, you may have noticed a new sign installed above a doorway directly next to the boutique hotel’s main Flower Street entrance called “D’Vine.” Going through the doorway will lead you immediately down a flight of stairs into a new wine lounge in the hotel’s basement that feels like you’ve escaped into a hidden gem somewhere in Tuscany but with a modern twist. Once you’re inside the dimly lit (and romantic!) space, you are greeted with a rustic and cozy atmosphere with its contrast of light and dark elements like the solid brown wood tables and wrought iron lattice dividers set against the creamy off-white walls. The most striking design feature that immediately stands out is a window to the left of the entrance that stretches the entire length of the room that “looks out” into the basement’s exposed brick wall making it feel like you’re actually on ground level as opposed to being in a basement.

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Asian Box Brings Vietnamese “Street Food” to Downtown LA

Asian Box is a casual and affordable Vietnamese eatery now open at 5th/Figueroa in Downtown LA

Asian Box is a casual and affordable Vietnamese eatery now open at 5th/Figueroa in Downtown LA

Another great addition is added to the growing list of casual and approachable dining spots in Downtown LA’s Financial District great for office workers (and residents alike). A new restaurant from the Bay Area called Asian Box opened this week at 5th and Figueroa across the street from the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. Originally from Palo Alto, Asian Box opened in 2012 focusing on Vietnamese street food with most ingredients sourced from local farmers. The restaurant offers diners a quick way to grab fresh tasty food in a similar fashion to Chipotle divided into three easy steps: 1) start your box (meal) with rice, salad, or noodles, 2) pick your protein, and 3) add on anything else you want from a yummy list of veggies, spices, and sauces all made in-house from scratch. And throw in a couple of delicious shrimp spring rolls while you’re at it!

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Downtown LA’s Library Tower Lit Up with Rainbow Colors

Downtown LA's Library Tower -- tallest skyscraper on the west coast -- was lit up with rainbow colors on Monday night celebrating the advancement of LGBT rights in America (Photo: Sterling Davis)

Downtown LA’s Library Tower — tallest skyscraper on the west coast — was lit up with rainbow colors on Monday night celebrating the advancement of LGBT rights in America (Photo: Sterling Davis)

[Update 10/7/14: Apparently I jumped the gun last night when I looked up and saw the rainbow colors, got excited, and assumed the colors were lit up to celebrate the expansion of LGBT rights (read below) when it was actually meant to signify the Special Olympics are opening offices inside the tower as well as hosting the summer games next year in Los Angeles. It was definitely a major coincidence that these two events fell exactly on the same day. The confusion stemmed from the fact that the international symbol for the LGBT community, recognized around the world, just so happens to be the colors of the rainbow. This brings up an obvious glaring issue that the US Bank Tower needs to inform the public on their website what the colors on top actually mean (like what the ESB does in NYC). Nevertheless, I'd still like to think the rainbow colors represented both significant events: the Special Olympics coming to LA and the advancement for LGBT rights. Win win for all.]  

Tonight, Downtown LA’s Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower) was lit up with rainbow colors celebrating a major milestone in LGBT rights in America. Earlier on Monday, 11 states legalized same-sex marriage as a result of the Supreme Court strategically declining to hear appeals from five states. The beautiful crown at the top of the tower — still the west coast’s tallest skyscraper — lit up brightly with red, green, purple, yellow, and blue that could be seen from miles away.

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New Gap on Broadway Aiming to Open Before Holidays in Downtown LA

A new Gap Factory Store is opening at 737 S Broadway (near 8th Street)

A new Gap Factory Store is opening at 737 S Broadway (near 8th Street)

After finding out that a Gap Factory Store is slated to open on Broadway (near 8th Street) instead of a regular Gap, some people (including myself) were a bit disappointed for obvious reasons. Why would Gap put an outlet store in Downtown LA? With so many new higher end retail stores opening nearby (i.e., Acne Studios, Aesop, OAK NYC, etc), why wouldn’t Gap open a regular store — maybe even a flagship store to make a huge impressive statement like what Zara and H&M did at FIGat7th? Both stores are now one of the highest performing locations in their respective chains in Southern California proving that “untested” Downtown LA is definitely capable of being a viable market for retail.

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DTLA Dark Nights Event is Back at L.A. LIVE in Downtown LA!

Dark Nights

Downtown Dark Nights at L.A. LIVE

DTLA’s best night of the month is back on Friday, October 3 with the same awesome $5 food and drink deals, $5 parking and even more live entertainment! Team LA will be having a huge sale again featuring 40% off most items and added to the mix is a curated artisanal marketplace made up of local vendors selling handcrafted goods.

Participating L.A. LIVE restaurants include: Katsuya, Rock ‘N Fish, The Farm of Beverly Hills, Lucky Strike Lanes, Red Mango, Rosa Mexicano, Tom’s Urban, Smashburger, Lawry’s Carvery, The Mixing Room, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill and The Conga Room.

Grab your friends and start the weekend off right at Dark Nights!

For more info, please click here.

Daiso Japan Opens Large “$1.50 Store” in Little Tokyo Galleria in Downtown LA

Customers shopping on the first day of opening for the new Daiso in Little Tokyo on Sat 9/27

Customers shopping on the first day of opening for the new Daiso in Little Tokyo on Sat 9/27

Another reason to head over to the Little Tokyo Galleria at 3rd/Alameda, which is going from a once completely dead mall to a fun and interesting spot to visit again for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Adding to that is a brand new Daiso Japan store that opened this past weekend on the first floor of the 3-story shopping center. At 8,300 square feet large, it’s packed with just about everything you can imagine! For those unfamiliar with Daiso, it’s basically like a Japanese version of LA’s 99 Cents Only store except most items are $1.50 at Daiso. And pretty much all the products in the store are also “Daiso branded,” which includes just about everything you can think of from common household items to office and school supplies, stuff for the bathroom and kitchen, products for pets, handy storage containers, holiday decorations, to useful electronic items like mini USB cables. Oh yeah, and there’s also a pretty sizeable snack section stocked with Asian goodies.

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SF’s Philz Coffee Coming to 8th and Hope in Downtown LA

Philz Coffee from San Francisco is opening a new location here in Downtown LA at 8th/Hope across from The Bloc

Philz Coffee from San Francisco is opening a new location here in Downtown LA at 8th/Hope across from The Bloc

Avid coffee drinkers rejoice! Voted “Best Coffee in San Francisco” by SF Weekly readers, Philz Coffee will be opening a new location here in Downtown LA at the new luxury apartment tower 8th+Hope. Although rumors have hinted that Philz Coffee was coming downtown, the lease was just officially signed today according to the commercial listing agents Justin Weiss and Lee Shapiro of Kennedy Wilson. The new cafe will take over 1,700 square feet of space at the corner of 8th and Hope Street with plenty of awesome outdoor patio seating within the building’s corner alcove (where the red arrow is pointing at) that will really help activate this once desolate intersection.

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Brigham Yen on KCET: “Trendy Grand Central Market in Downtown LA Losing Character?”

SoCal Connected just aired this great episode about Grand Central Market on KCET last night. Reporter Nic Cha Kim chats with the local downtown community (including myself) as well as vendors within the historic food hall (Eggslut, Belcampo, etc), asking some pertinent questions like: How do the new (relatively more expensive) vendors affect Grand Central Market and what does it mean for Downtown LA?

Check out the video above and learn more about Downtown LA’s historic 1917 Grand Central Market on KCET’s website.