• **updated! construction has begun!** was it too good to be true?

    August 28th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, pure luck (closed)

    friday update, after the post.

    if you read my blog, there are probably 2 things you know about me: 1.) i hate bell peppers and 2.) i loooOOOOoooOOOove pure luck. the very first time i ate there, i knew i had something special: fancy tap beer, the best vegan food ever, great service and a funky chill atmosphere. i often found myself relaxing at a window table, bathed in sunlight, about 1/2 way though my second pint of craftsman as a steaming hot plate of potato pals was brought to my table and lou reed’s transformer drifted through the speakers…thinking, this place is just way too good to be true.

    i’m beginning to believe i was right.

    torta: sauteéd jackfruit "carnitas", plus pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, tomatillo salsa, sliced avocado and vegan mayo on a grilled rustic roll. $9

    torta: sauteéd jackfruit "carnitas", plus pinto beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, tomatillo salsa, sliced avocado and vegan mayo on a grilled rustic roll. $9

    ahhhh…the torta, pictured above. this photo was taken months ago, before the restaurant started going downhill. please notice: a plastic order number to the way upper left, a 20oz beer next to it, and a generous serving of potato pals with the entrée (at no extra charge, mind you)! these things have now all gone…they don’t exist at pure luck anymore, and neither does the window that’s lighting them.

    you see, on july 19, 2008, a fucking truck plowed through the window and wall of pure luck, fatally wounding my favorite eatery. i was hopeful at the time that they’d get the shit repaired stat, but unfortunately since the accident i’ve seen the best employees leave, the portions reduced, and the atmosphere sacrificed. plus they haven’t even bothered to fix the window. even before that awful day, they had switched from counter to table service…a decision that formalized the once-super-chill establishment and led to many an awkward moment between me and my plastic-carrying/no-cash co-workers. (splitting the check sux.) anyways, the truck barreling through the restaurant seemed to be the last straw. pure luck jumped the shark; the shit officially hit the fan. i’m so sad. and so over it.

    let’s take a look at what changed.

    the first thing i noticed after that dreadful day, was the portions got smaller at pure luck and the prices (kind of) increased. i say (kind of) because, they didn’t officially. it used to be a sly trick to order the unadvertised potato pals as a side dish, and the staff would happily comply. well, after the accident, the staff still happily complied…but for a dollar more. an extra dollar, that was never mentioned, just sitting there on the bill. the portion of potato pals (or any side for that matter) also shrunk a great deal. don’t believe me? see for yourself:

    angélica's garbanzo salad sandwich $7

    angélica's garbanzo salad sandwich $7

    before the truck crashed into pure luck, life was good and this sandwich was awesome! so much vegenaise and so many chickpeas! they forgot to put the tomato on, but that problem was promptly fixed when i questioned my waitress. plus, a HUGE pile of potato pals—subbed for fries, no worries, no extra $$. let’s jump forward one month to after the truck went through the window:

    todd's bbq sandwich: bbq jackfruit "pulled pork" with pickles, onions and vegan mayo on a rustic roll. $9 (or $10 to my surprise with potato pals!)

    todd's bbq sandwich: bbq jackfruit "pulled pork" with pickles, onions and vegan mayo on a rustic roll. $9 (or $10 to my surprise with potato pals!)

    totally disappointing. not only am i forced to pay a premium for my favorite side…but the quantity is reduced! both the side and the main dish are considerably smaller. i know this, because one of my insatiable carnivorous co-workers even noticed…”hey, isn’t this bbq sandwich much smaller than it was like last week?” uggggggggh. the last thing veganism needs is “the best vegan restaurant in LA” recruiting meat-eaters by serving them tiny portions at a high price in a darkened restaurant that appears to be undergoing demolitions. oh well.

    …at least the beer is a good deal, right? NOT ANYMORE! first pure luck tried to spoil the fun by raising beer prices for 16oz pints AND 20oz pints, each by a dollar. then they changed the plan and stopped offering 20oz pints all together. in the old days you could get a 16oz for $5, and a 20oz for $6. now, after all the blackboard erasing and price-changing fuckery, a 16oz is still $5 and an 18oz is $6. 20oz beers are no longer available. sigh. to beer drinkers like me this is a huge setback. not to mention the selection of brew on tap is constantly dwindling, and they tend to be “out” of the better beers more frequently. i can tell you, it’s not what it used to be.

    and to be fair, it’s not just the sides, or the beer…but the portions themselves are getting smaller. check out the difference in the fresh noodle salad. it used to be a plate of spinach with a mound of tofu and other good shit on top…now it’s an entire bowl full of spinach, with a skimpy amount of tofu & toppings sprinkled on. totally disappointing.

    oh, and the atmosphere. yeah, that sucks now. at first, after the accident, it was charming like, “what a great restaurant, they are pulling through even though a truck smashed into them!” now a month later, it’s just annoying like, “why is this place always so fucking dark and why is there nowhere good to sit.” oh yeah, and TONS of flies get in and swarm around your food now, because they haven’t repaired the damage properly. one window went a very long way. sad. sad. sad.

    pure luck window, before and after the crash

    pure luck window, before and after the crash

    as you can see, pure luck is totally bumming me out. as if all this accident-related and price crap wasn’t enough, they fucked with the menu as well. each dish used to come with a side of fries or a cesar salad. now, they just serve your meal with a boring spinach italiany salad instead. i haven’t bothered to order it, i was pretty disappointed when i saw my friend’s wrap arrive with a tiny mound of spinach and some see-through dressing. i prefer to remember the wonderful wrap and side in their former glory:

    kristen's carnitas wrap: jackfruit "carnitas" with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and césar dressing, wrapped in a flour tortilla. $8

    kristen's carnitas wrap: jackfruit "carnitas" with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and césar dressing, wrapped in a flour tortilla. $8

    when i ate that wrap i wish i’d have known that it was a shrinking commodity: the new wraps are much smaller and their side salads are waaaaay boring. ugh. if only i could have the old pure luck back.

    more injustice after the jump.

    i guess when i think about what’s missing from pure luck, it’s really the atmosphere and the people. it’s less crowded than it used to be—the regulars i remember from the past months never make an appearance. patti, the awesome-est waitress/manager and face of pure luck has vanished. the restaurant is dank, dark and unwelcoming. at first, after the crash, i was SO PROUD of pure luck, admiring them for facing shitty times and rising above. now i just think they have risen my food prices and are giving me less, in terms of portions, service, and experience. plus THE 20oz BEERS ARE GONE!!!!!!!!!!!! my saturday is forever changed. 🙁 lemme pay homage to the things that have disappeared since the awful pure luck window-drive-smashing:

    the big beers will surely be missed by me, and a bunch of drunkards who frequent beeradvocate.com. i will also miss the lovely sunlight.

    patti will surely be missed by all the customers who felt at home when she offered them a hug, and by all the introverts like me who were put at ease by her over-sharing and huge displays of affection…not to mention her supreme knowledge of the menu and awesome customer service skills. and again, that window will be missed. darkness has replaced it and that half of the restaurant is beyond depressing.

    overall, PLEASE don’t get me wrong: PURE LUCK IS THE BEST VEGAN RESTAURANT IN TOWN. it just isn’t what it used to be. at all. i’m holding onto hope though. i think it may be able to fix that wall and bounce back.



    well, even after that little diatribe, i decided to go to pure luck for lunch today. no, i’m not crazy…some co-workers and i were just longing for a leisurely meal and pint before the holiday weekend and to be honest, the thing that drew us to pure luck was the 1903 on tap…not the atmosphere or vegan food, sadly. imagine our surprise when we pulled up and saw this:

    that’s right, they were working on the window…finally! (pardon the crappy iphone pix, i didn’t plan on blogging about this lunch.) well, can you believe, during construction the restaurant was STILL OPEN. that meant eating lunch and yelling over the sounds of banging hammers and drilling drill thingys. it was awful. the racket was so bad when we walked in, that the owner offered to seat us in the new “patio” section to the left of the restaurant. much better, except it was HOT AS BALLS out there. oh well, they had a fan and it was slightly more peaceful. 3 steel tables occupy the tight but comfy indoor/outdoor space. i’m sure it’s lovely when the weather isn’t so muggy.

    anyways, i tried some new food if any of you care. we got the fried dill pickle chips, and subbed half the order for fries. when it arrived, though, it was probably more like 1/8 pickle chips, 7/8 fries. that’s alright though…i like fries. i’ve never had pickle chips before, but i think i liked them. slightly out of my comfort zone, yet i can’t get ’em out of my mind.

    fried dill pickle chips and fries. $5

    fried dill pickle chips and fries. $5

    by the time we left, a whole new wall was put up outside the place. they even had customers seated at the old window seat…that was quick!

    while that speed is pretty impressive, i just hope they know that there is supposed to be a window there and not a bloody wall! at least things are moving ahead. hopefully this is a good sign. however, i wouldn’t recommend eating at pure luck until the construction is over….unless you enjoy loud clatter or a steaming hot patio.

    fingers crossed that pure luck will be restored to its former glory…

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17 responses to “**updated! construction has begun!** was it too good to be true?” RSS icon

  • My heart is breaking as I read this. I think it’s the sight of that after-photo of the sad sorry excuse for the previously awesome noodle salad that hurts the most. And the ghost of Patti through the ghost window 🙁

  • You know, they probably did what they had to do with the portion sizes and price increases 🙁 but I still share the pain with you. At least its not out of business like JAX Vegan Cafe, that is really a heart breaker. Vegan businesses in LA are supposed to double in size like RFD & Native Foods (& vegan friendly A Votre Santa) all over took the business next to them this year. CA Vegan opened a new location.

    Patti was awesome…

  • foodeater: tell me about it! it totally sucks that patti is gone, and the awesome salad has been cut down. ugh. 🙁
    lex: you are probably right. it’s just a shame because it used to be the PERFECT restaurant. i liked it so much more than native foods, and CA vegan has NOTHING on pure luck…damn that truck that drove through the window! i never even got a chance to eat at jax. bummer.

  • Ah well, this sort of thing happens everywhere. Old owners or chefs go, new ones come, quality drops. It is sad, but it is life.

    (On the bright side, quality sometimes, just sometimes, improves!)


  • Has anyone else noticed how horrible MCafe has gotten? That’s another one that expanded last year I forget in the above post. They don’t have a chef any more so its just line cooks doing the work.

  • lex: seriously? i go to m cafe AT LEAST once a week and i love it. i first started going a couple of months ago, so i don’t know what it was like back in the day. was it much better? god if it was better than it is now, i’m really bummed i missed out! i haven’t been to the culver city location but i really wanna check it out. the melrose restaurant is usually crowded and full of jerks.

  • I miss Patti. She was one of those larger than life characters who would always cheer you up. After 60Oz of beer, a wrap and potato pals a nice hug from her before walking out into the heat was just what I needed. Also the owner-dude should spend more time fixing the window than he does hanging up useless ‘artwork’ on the walls. Talk about fiddling while Rome is burning!

  • I am truly shocked that the damn window hasn’t been fixed yet. I realize it was an unexpected expense, but seriously, how expensive can something like that be to fix? I mean, how much money must they be losing by leaving it all ugly and broken like that… if I drove by (excuse me, biked by) and saw that, I’d think they were either closed and/or that I just wouldn’t want to eat somewhere that can’t afford to fix the giant hole in their wall. Aren’t restaurants supposed to have insurance for that sort of thing? And isn’t it dangerous to just leave it like that?

    Why don’t they just pay for it with all the extra dollars their getting for the side of potato pals???

  • foodeater: looks like they FINALLY started fixing the wall. personally though, it think they should either close during repairs…or give people a discount for eating in a construction zone.

  • i wonder what the health department thinks about all this – I’m sure that the gaping holes are against LA county code… anyway, that partitioning board is only up there temporarily, probably until they have a customized window made. however, this will buy them much more time so don’t expect to have the window back any time soon. I would never sit outside at PL. would be too hot and, being only yards from the 101, probably smoggy too. yuk.

  • Sorry, but I’m laughing my ass off reading this! I’m completely sympathetic to your restaurant plight, but your writing is so hilarious that I can’t help it. I hope they get their shit together soon!

  • Toes crossed too! We’re rooting for ya Pure Luck…

  • keeping fingers crossed here too! Bummer about the 20 oz beers…

  • that 1903 beer is seriously our fav, too!!!!!!

  • Just remember – in some places we don’t even have vegetarian restaurants!

  • HOLY SHIT!!! That is terrible! I love Pure Luck, but I haven’t been since the accident. I had no idea that things were so amiss with the food and the atmosphere.

    On a completely unrelated note, I am going to start saying “fuckery” at least once a day!

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