Saturday, June 15, 2013

Empress Pavilion: End of a Dim Sum Era

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End of a Dim Sum Era!
Remembering Empress Pavilion


One of the icons of Chinatown in Los Angeles
closed for good in early June 2013.

It was a large Hong Kong-style restaurant
that opened in 1989.

It was a good 24+ year run!

I had heard some comments in the industry
that they were having issues,
but my first thought was come on...I guess it was true.

According to the Los Angeles Times, they were evicted,
the restaurant owners fell behind on rent.

I remember when this center opened, filled with 
all kinds of shops and a market on the ground floor.

Today when I visited, the market has been gone
for many years now, the escalators are out of order,
most of the stores are empty, the building needs repair work,
and there was no way I was getting into the elevators...

It's sad to see the condition that this center is in,
but the saddest part is the 100+ employees of
Empress Pavilion now out of work, 
some of the ladies pushing the carts
have worked since the opening.


Saturday Lunch:  Hard to believe not to see this
whole area filled with people waiting for a table 

I was thinking today how many times I've sat
on those benches waiting for a table and running
into someone I knew who was there for a birthday,
baby shower, or just lunch.


 I'll remember the dim sum carts moving around the
massive dining room delivering orders of 
bao, spare ribs, chicken feet, noodles, dumplings, 
vegetables, seafood, custards, puddings, and 
pork-filled wrapped goodies.



I had a couple of pictures that I found from my
last dim sum lunch at Empress Pavilion.

Not just for dim sum, but I do remember all of the lunches,
dinners, birthday celebrations, wedding receptions,
1st birthday parties, and my cousin's rehearsal dinner here.


Hard to believe how quiet the restaurant
is now, the tables are set for the next service,
but that won't happen.


So today, I remember the Grande Dame
of Los Angeles's Chinatown
with Sui Mai and Har Gow.


One the way home, I was thinking what would've
happened if they called me to help?

In the restaurant industry, it's not just having the best location or in Los Angeles having parking, but also times have changed and large restaurants with big menus are at risk of an ever-changing landscape and customer base.  It's not about just serving food anymore, as the owners of Empress Pavilion found out the hard way.

There are a lot of talented chefs and cooks out there creating amazing dishes, but not many restaurant people understand the changing marketplace and how to reach a moving target audience by using some of today's tools.  I do stay on top of the food industry, technology, new menu items, trends and a major reason why I don't have time to cook much these days.   Food marketing is tough, I know I get calls, but that's for another time...  


It Was a Good Run!

Just wondering what will be next
at this site or if the center will be
a complete teardown?
Hmm...



Photos by Jay Terauchi
Jay Eats

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