According to today’s Times, last night the Board of Supervisors passed the ridiculous new restrictions on Taco Trucks.
Go to SaveOurTacoTrucks.org and sign our new online petition, and help us spread the word.
After a long wait, battles with the neighbors and numerous setbacks, the Coffee Table Lounge finally opened its doors on April 11th. As you may well know, we at YORK BLVD. were quite eager to see a new spot open up, and who-hawed the opposition. Needless to say, we went the first chance we got.
It should be mentioned, that though tempted, we managed to refrain from parking on the neighbors lawn, discarding used hypodermic needles and condoms in the street or puking in any mailboxes—despite the prior predictions that opening a new bar in the neighborhood would bring just that. Maybe next time.
To begin, the Lounge sports a fantastic selection of brews—over 100 in fact. 16 on tap, 90+ bottles and a good selection of “big boys” (bottles16oz or more). The bartenders gladly poured us a couple of taster shots of the lesser-known verities, such as the Leinenkugles Wheat (which, by the way, is misspelled on their menu). Our server hit the nail on the head describing it as “fruity,” and after one taste I promptly ordered my old favorite, Racer 5 IPA. Without a doubt, the beer at Lounge rocks.
And then there’s everything else. Walking in was something of a sensory overload—either I can’t remember what hit me first, or I’m just trying to block it out. The “booths” are bright blue, padded rails that look like they were stolen from the old American Gladiator set, and the stools are tall, bright red leather chairs. Meanwhile the lighting seems to be an attempt at dark mood-lighting, but it’s thrown off terribly by the large amount of open space and also the light coming off two giant LCD TVs on the wall and a HUGE screen taking up the back wall, currently showing a Lakers game. On the whole, the place feels like Chuck E. Cheese mixed with a bad disco club, with a sports bar in the back corner.
Ah, maybe sports could be a redeeming quality of the place. Add in satellite with some good sports programming and who can resist an MLB season ticket on a 200-inch screen. But it turns out they only have standard cable and no sports packages. So much for that.
So maybe the food could save the Lounge. The menu offers a few things not available next door, such as a Kobe beef hotdog, a Lounge Burger and gourmet tacos.
Wait, Kobe beef hotdog? Well, apparently after slicing off the prime steaks and grinding up the chuck for burgers, they still have the same undesirable parts of a Kobe cow left over that every other butcher is stuck with, and somebody figured out to do the same old trick. Make a hotdog, don’t tell anybody what part of the cow they’re eating, and now, since it’s Kobe beef, you can charge 8 bucks for it. In other words, a Kobe beef hotdog is an overpriced Ballpark frank, and actually not as good.
Then there’s the Lounge Burger. This varies oh-so-slightly from the standard burger in that it has avocado and bacon. That’s really it. That’s the special burger that you can only get at the Lounge. A bacon, avocado cheeseburger. Decent for a meal, but nothing to write home about, and nothing worth a special trip into the Thunderdome for.
Finally, the gourmet tacos. They come in “a la carte” plates of two, for a whopping $5.50. Considering a family of 4 can eat for that much at nearby taco trucks, we skipped them altogether. I don’t pay 5 bucks for two tacos, “Tuscan Pesto with Portabello Mushrooms” be damned.
So the bottom line: The Coffee Table Lounge is a full-on, straight-up bust. The entire time I sat in my uncomfortable, blue booth staring across the street at the Oinkster, wishing I had eaten there instead. Besides the beer, the only real entertainment of the evening came from watching people walk in the door, stop in utter shock, and walk back out. It happened at least 4 times in an hour. If only I had know better, I could have made it five.
It appears our County Supervisor, Gloria Molina is out to (this time metaphorically) whitewash our neighborhoods. Today the Times reported that she is pushing for increased regulation of our venerable neighborhood taco trucks, which would marginalize them and ultimately eliminate them from the cityscape. The article’s focus is mostly on East LA, but presumably, the proposal would affect taco trucks throughout the county. Remember, this is the same Gloria Molina who took offense at some graffiti art murals in the Arroyo Seco a few months ago, which were subsequently painted over. No one ever took responsibility for the murals’ removal, probably because a sizable group of residents were upset that the works had been removed despite prior authorization by the county.
So, Supervisor Molina doesn’t like seeing graffiti art from her Mt. Washington home and she apparently doesn’t like eating at taco trucks either. Currently, the trucks are supposed to move every 30 minutes or face a $60 fine. As we all know, this rule is scarcely followed as the same trucks are in the same location every night. (How can you find Mariscos Estilo D.F. or Takitaco if it’s in a different location every half hour?) Molina aims to make staying in the same location for an hour a misdemeanor punishable by $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail. You read right: Jail. I’m not sure what part of District 1 Molina is working for, but I sure as hell want to move there as the top legislative priority seems to be driving out of business and imprisoning carne asada “dealers”. (Mt. Washington perhaps?) Her defense largely seems to be based around helping local brick and mortar restaurants succeed but I really fail to see the parallel. Eagle Rock seems to be doing just fine despite the presence of several trucks, some of which have been there for decades. Supervisor Molina’s actions would serve to eliminate a fundamental part of Angeleno culture to what benefit? Those who eat at taco trucks because of their affordability will simply eat out less often, and those who like the quality will not suddenly embrace Taco Bell. But why stop there Supervisor? You could round up the mariachis in Boyle Heights who make it hard for “brick and mortar” mariachis to compete. Maybe the Sherriff’s Department can be used to break up church car washes that undercut local businessmen. You know, the ice cream man doesn’t have as much overhead as Coldstone. Can’t we put him in lockup? With frivolous proposals like this being debated in our local government, is it any wonder nothing of substance gets solved? If you feel like we do, that Supervisor Molina should focus more on issues like crime, transportation, and pollution, please send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to cut and paste the following letter, and add any additional thoughts you may have:
Dear Supervisor Molina,
I am writing to express serious concern regarding the actions you have taken against the taco trucks in our neighborhoods. As a member of the Eastside community, I greatly value our local street vendors–for their food, service, and especially culture.
Taco trucks fill many voids left by traditional restaurants, whether it is more authentic, better food, better hours, or cheaper prices. Furthermore, taco trucks create a sense of community on the streets that enclosed, “brick-and-mortar” stores cannot.
Taco trucks are a special and unique facet of East Los Angeles, and something that I cherish about my neighborhood.
I urge you to withdraw your proposal, and instead focus on the more pressing and detrimental issues that are facing our community.
We’d love to hear what responses you get (if any).