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Dec 30, 2009 01:15 PM

THE VETTING ON MIRACLE MILE HAS BEGUN! Organic to Go's $8 prefab cafeteria tuna salad sandwiches and the wretched Toshi's have become the first victims of the far superior FancyTrucks™!

You read it right-- hallelujah and praise the lord.

Let's hope the trend continues to push out all the rest of the existing Museum Square restaurants, and that they are replaced with restauranteurs that know and understand what good, simple, DELICIOUS fresh food is.

Imagine if a 101 Noodle Express opened here... filling, cheap and delicious. Good lord, they'd have lines out the door, and it could even work to keep the FancyTruck™ guys on their toes.

Mr Taster

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  1. Good for you maybe, but for the neighborhood, empty restaurants are not an improvement over actual businesses with lighting, alarm systems and workers who sweep the sidewalks.

    And bringing in any other marginally capitalized restaurants is a pipe dream. I can't imagine that any potential restaurant owners would think it would make good business sense to pay the overhead for a mortar and brick restaurant in a neighborhood overrun with trucks that can serve cheaper food and then drive home every night..

    I like the trucks too, but I am not sure that driving out the restaurants and their employees, even restaurants where you don't want to eat , is a victory for many.

    6 Replies
    1. re: coffeebrownies

      Please note, nowhere did I say that I prefer to see empty restaurants. What I'm seeking is a raising of the culinary bar on Miracle Mile. Utter mediocrity has been the status quo for so long here... Callendars, Koo Koo Roo, Baja Fresh... come on! It's bland, uninspired dreck, and the only reason they've survived for so long is because **there have been no other options.** People here are starving for something really good, fresh, and most importantly, delicious. As of now, only the trucks have serviced that need.

      Case in point-- do you remember when Toshi's (aka Samurai Sam's) first opened? If you recall, on opening days the lines were out the door. People were starving for something fresh, new and exciting.

      Then we tasted the food.

      It was the worst yet of the already very low bar set by Johnnie's, Baja, et al, and the lines quickly diminished. It's dreadfully sad-- in the weeks leading up to Toshi's closure, he took to advertising $3 egg McMuffin style breakfast sandwiches in the lobby of the office towers. I just kept shaking my head... all they had to do what make some good, simple, tasty food and they would have had my business.

      The trucks are not a replacement for good brick and mortar restaurants, because one cannot replace something that never existed. And good, tasty food hasn't existed on Miracle Mile for a long time.

      Any restaurant that attempts to take over the spots vacated by Organic to Go and Toshi's had better bring their A game if they want to survive. We're done with mealy, bland, boring food here on the Miracle Mile.

      Mr Taster

      1. re: Mr Taster

        You win. Longest. Post. Title. Ever. Hope when the first truck fails the title will be just as long.

        1. re: TonyC

          Apples to oranges, TC... if we were in an environment where mediocre trucks dominated the landscape and a brilliant brick and mortar popped up driving out the mediocre trucks, that would deserve a similarly verbose title!

          Mr Taster

          1. re: TonyC

            Dude, no way, ExileKiss has that award all locked up.

            Miracle Mile has been a ghastly black hole of Chow for ten years. Maybe now it can be revitalised a bit.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              I model myself after the master of the Verbose Attention-Getting Subject Header.

              Mr Taster

        2. re: coffeebrownies

          i used to work in that neighborhood.
          the only way a truck will 'drive out' a restaurant is if the food on the truck is much better than that of the restaurant.
          my colleagues and i WANTED to sit down at a table and be served lunch.
          when we worked late we also wanted to sit down at a table and be served dinner.
          we didn't want the office smelling of food wrappers, the refrigerator developing a new life form, nor our work area getting contaminated with food/grease.
          that said, since the food the area restaurants served was awful, if there was a better food option available, it would have been hard to overlook.

        3. i work in miracle mile. thank goodness for the closures! organic to go had OK soup and oatmeal but the prices were too expensive. i'd hit up black dog cafe in a pinch. once in a blue moon i could deal with kookooroos sides. johnnies is blah. so bring on the food trucks and i heard speculation that coffee bean and tea leaf may be coming to the toshi's old spot. who knows...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Clyde

            Yeah, Black Dog is pretty much the only brick & mortar restaurant on the strip whose food I might actually categorize as enjoyable, though I'm a bit bored by the menu lineup. While further away, Umami Burger is the only restaurant whose food I would proactively salivate over, but their prices (and fat content) are too high for me to eat there with any regularity.

            Mr Taster

          2. I couldn't agree more. I hate to see anyone lose a job or whatever, but it's pretty hard to have any sympathy for those places. If there had been anything halfway decent in that location, they would have made thousands of dollars off me in the 13+ years I worked there, but instead I learned to always bring my lunch. Now I hit the trucks every so often and I'm glad to have the alternative.
            I'm sure Baja Fresh will do just fine despite the trucks, because at least people know it's relatively fresh and reliable.

            1. The downtown locations of Organics to Go have also closed. There has also been a lot of competition from the trucks on Grand Avenue on Bunker Hill. It seems as if a new truck shows up every couple of days.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Gingerleen

                This goes beyond the trucks killing brick and mortar. I work on South Beverly Drive, no trucks allowed, and almost every single restaurant is for sale. The resto's can't pay the sky high rents in this market. Even really good place like Cabbage Patch are either for sale or slogging through their lease and then they are gone. This economy is not conductive to a predominately lunch crowd. So even though you bemoan the state of restaurants on Wilshire the fact is the businesses don't get much of a morning rush nor do they get the dinner business. Their costs are so exorbitant for basically just a lunch business. Too bad for the employees and the employers it is sad and not worthy of a celebratory lap. Circumstances sometimes dictate actions contrary to initial goals.

                1. re: trojans

                  Solution: Open up a banh mi che cali in Miracle Mile.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      They'd have to charge 6 -8$ a sandwich to cover CC costs.

                      Could you imagine the complaining on here? I can't believe they're charging...

                      1. re: AAQjr

                        banh mi che cali truck

                        you heard it here first!~

                        (as long as it's not a Lee's truck!)

                  1. re: trojans

                    I live in Park LaBrea--along with roughly 10,000 other folks who have relatively small kitchens and probably do a lot of take out and eat out dinners--and it is a one block walk to this stretch of Wilshire. So there could certainly be a dinner crowd for the right restaurants. Baja Fresh and KooKooRoo (back when the food was decent) get dinner crowds. A decent pan-Asain restaurant there would get lots of traffic--as long as it could survive the lunch competition from the trucks. But, for us neighbors, the idea that the trucks (lunch only) are driving out the restaurants (lunch and dinner) is a lose-lose proposition.

                    1. re: trojans

                      It isn't just restaurants that high rents are killing off. Small businesses of all varieties are closing because it's not economically feasible to stay open.

                  2. I have worked in the area for about nine years and I have to say I agree that restaurant selections are pretty mediocre. That's why I would bring my lunch to work pretty much every day. Never ate at Toshi's but the reports from others who did was that it wasn't very good. Organic to go was overpriced but OK. Callenders also has some edible items on the menu, but who wants to pay 12 bucks or more per person for mediocrity? If I had to go out I would go to Black Dog or just drive up to the Farmers Market.

                    It is economics, as another poster said, people aren't going out to eat as often these days, and now people don't want to put up with mediocre restaurant offerings in the Miracle Mile because they want more for their buck. So it's not surprising that two of them have closed. I know quite a few of the publishing and production companies that have offices in this area who have laid off people, so there are also fewer diners. The problem in Miracle Mile is that rents are crazy, so nobody wants to open a restaurant because it is so dependent on regular business. You would think people would, because of not only the office lunch crowd but LACMA being so close by - we have needed decent restaurants for years. But no one has stepped up. The old Johnnie's coffee shop has a prime spot on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, but it is owned by the 99 Cent Store there who would prefer just to use the parking lot.

                    Now Kogi et al has showed up, and its a welcome sight: decent, inexpensive food. Giving the people what they want. Maybe someone will recognize that there are people in the area who like decent food and open up a good brick and mortar restaurant and it and the trucks can coexist.