What the All-Day Dining Trend Reveals about L.A.’s Creative Economy

We’re living in the golden age of café society

WITH ITS SIZABLE population of struggling actors between gigs and muscle-for-hire fitness instructors, Los Angeles has always been kind to those who (with varying degrees of success) make their own schedule.

“People are cobbling together careers out of what is essentially freelance work,” says Heather Sperling, a food media veteran who opened Silver Lake’s Botanica restaurant and market in May with former Daily Candy editor Emily Fiffer. Thanks to its mellow, sun-kissed patio, Botanica is a place to linger, especially for those indulging in chile-butter Turkish eggs and an Aperol Spritz before noon on a Wednesday. “That lifestyle lends itself to being able to have a beautiful breakfast by yourself or with friends at a place you love,” she says.

For a growing number of L.A. restaurants, the scope of casual dining is expanding, specifically when it comes to hours of operation. At Ari Kolender’s Hayden in Culver City, that means rice bowls in the morning, prosciutto sandwiches for lunch, and kanpachi crudo for dinner—no meal left behind.

THE ECONOMIC APPEAL for restaurants eager to maximize their return on rising costs is obvious. “You pay rent 24 hours a day, you serve food as many hours as possible,” says Ken Friedman, who recently opened Hollywood’s The Hearth & Hound with New York chef April Bloomfield. Through a destination bistro in the evening, the restaurant hopes to attract the power-breakfast crowd, too. Want to enjoy boutique wines and spit-roasted meats while you finish your spec script? Come by.

More important, a diverse array of foods gives customers reason to return (and chefs an oppertunity to experiment). At Chad Robertson’s forthcoming Tartine Manufactory downtown, you’ll be able to buy fresh bread, just-roasted coffee, and pizza by the slice from one of the country’s foremost pizzaiolos, Chris Bianco, who will operate an adjacent trattoria. As Robertson assures, you’ll be welcome to order takeout “on your afternoon run in your hoodie.”

“We’re evolving into this exciting café society,” says Karen Hatfield, who serves hand pies, spinach fattoush salads, and housemade tagliatelle at The Mighty, an all-day restaurant in DTLA she runs with her husband, Quinn. At Santa Monica’s Lunetta All Day, Raphael Lunetta was delighted when he saw four women come in for brunch—at 5 p.m. They ordered mimosas, steak and eggs, and a carnitas memela. As Lunetta puts it: “We wanted to give people what they want, when they want it.”

RELATED: The 50 Best Breakfast Spots in L.A. Right Now