Before the pandemic, Bestia and Bavel were among L.A.’s most desirable reservations. Even as their once-buzzy dining rooms sat empty during the shutdown, chef-restauranteurs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis did their best to bring their fine-dining touch to weekly Bavel and Bestia takeout menus–but after nearly a year, they’ve decided to take a break.
“These last 10 months have been, for many of us, some of the most difficult of our time,” the couple wrote in a statement posted on Instagram. “Our restaurants were not designed to operate this way.”
In the statement, they describe the many professionals involved in creating the elevated dining experiences that brought so many into their restaurants for years, and the effort that went into controlling quality, and completing a dish just moments before a diner took the first bite.
“This is what we were meant to do,” they wrote. “We will once again do this for our guests, in person, at Bestia and Bavel, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Gergis told Los Angeles in July that, as soon as the pandemic began to grip the city, they considered shutting down entirely–but without relief funds for restaurants on the horizon, they were faced with a difficult financial circumstance.
“I was on the phone with our accountant and controller, and I was looking at the numbers, and she was like, “You’re going to be out of money by May 1,” she said. “We had, like, 100 grand, which, when you’re paying $65,000 a month in health insurance, plus other things that you owe, that goes away very damn fast. So we had two choices: we either shut down everything and put our restaurants in a coma, and no one has health insurance, or we figure out a way to sell enough takeout to pay our vendors for the food we’re using, to pay for health insurance, and then, if we’re lucky enough, to pay off some of the things that we owe, like utilities and part of the rent.”
While many local restaurants have struggled to keep staffers safe from COVID-19, even while following existing protocols, neither Bestia nor Bavel have experienced cases of the virus among its employees.
Only after Bestia and Bavel made the announcement about takeout was the public informed that Los Angeles County would soon allow the reopening of outdoor dining. Even with that option on the table, though, a representative for the restaurants says the team “hasn’t made any decisions on reopening” and will be awaiting more information before moving forward on that front.
Last summer, when we spoke to Gergis, she expressed trepidation about resuming service with the pandemic still ripping through the community.
“The whole point of restaurants is they’re places to let go of the stress of your everyday life,” she said. “As long as this virus is rampant and deadly, people aren’t going to be able to fully relax in a restaurant. I want our restaurant to be an escape.”
Bavel and Bestia takeout service will continue through this week. Orders can be placed on Tock.
This article was updated to make clear that neither Bestia nor Bavel have experienced COVID-19 cases among staffers.
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