Back in June, Alma announced that it would be forced to shutter unless it raised $40,000 via an Indiegogo campaign, citing, among other things, an ongoing lawsuit from a former advisor and investor. Everyone was shocked. Alma was L.A.’s critical darling: It was named Bon Appétit‘s best new restaurant 2013, Ari Taymor was a Food and Wine best new chef in 2014, and putting Alma into Los Angeles magazine’s best new restaurants list was a no-brainer.
People reached out with messages of support, dug into their pockets (PayPal accounts), and the restaurant raised almost $50,000 in a matter of weeks. It was about more than just the carefully curated perks like tasting menu dinners for two and a limited edition tote bag (show up to an L.A. farmers market with an Alma tote and you’re instantly the coolest person there).
It seemed like the city was racked with a sense of collective guilt. How could L.A. let this progressive, artistic, uncompromisingly chef-driven gem of a restaurant fail? We all felt responsible for Alma’s struggle. We read through the IndieGogo campaign and saw a rap sheet of our own gustatory indiscretions. We cursed ourselves for all the times we were in the Arts District between 6 and 10 p.m. and didn’t stop in. But everything was going to be OK. We shared a link on Facebook; Alma raised the money; and we all went to OpenTable to make a res then promptly forgot complete it.
Everything wasn’t OK. Alma announced this morning via its Instagram account that it could no longer sustain the financial beating it had been taking, from angles within and without: “Dear community: Today we announce that after 3 years of operating in downtown Los Angeles, we will be closing Alma. Our final day of dinner service will be Saturday October 24th. The challenges this small business faces restricts its ability to continue.”
Ari Taymor would later expound on those challenges in an interview with Grubstreet. “When you are under-resourced as a business, you’re exposed on every single angle,” he said “You’re exposed by a slow week. You’re exposed by a plumbing issue. You’re exposed by a health inspector who doesn’t like the placement of your urinal and threatens to take your license away, which happened to us.”
The duo of Taymor and co-owner Ashleigh Parsons didn’t elaborate on what their plans for the future were, but both seemed optimistic that there was still a lot of brand power locked up in Alma, even if the next project didn’t keep the name. “We really want a place where we can put down roots for ten years,” Taymor said. I think we’d all like that too—and we promise to stop by more often.