Atwater Village -- Palette Food and Juice is closing after nearly four years at the end of the month in the wake of a pandemic-related drop in business and a rent-increase.
Palette tried to pivot from take-out food and drinks to start selling grocery store items during the beginning of the lockdown and brought back their full menu in May, but their sales remained too low, the owners said.
Co-owner Molly Keith announced the Sept. 30 closure in a heartfelt video posted earlier this month on Instagram.
"I don’t have to tell y’all that things have been hard for small business especially restaurants," Keith said. "They keep saying if you’re mostly take out, you should be fine. But this has simply not been the case for us."
Keith mentioned their PPP loan ran out in July and their sales have been 25% of what they were before COVID. Palette was still in business despite these barriers, but the last straw was a rent increase.
"We couldn't even pay the rent we were paying before," Keith said. "We're just going to close up shop and ride this thing out for a while and see because it just it doesn't make sense to pour a lot of capital into another space ... when the economic climate in Los Angeles and in the U.S. is so uncertain right now."
Keith and her co-owner Melissa Nester opened Palette with the dream of serving a 100% local menu. Nester was an entertainment-industry hairstylist and Keith had been working in the restaurant industry for over 25 years, from dishwasher to head chef. They manage to have a menu that was 95% local and reduced their waste to a single trash bag a day.
"Most most places will have like one or two vendors for produce," Keith said, "We had like 25, and people loved it because we were constantly having things that people had never heard about."
They hope to sell out by the end of the month. If that's not the case, they will be donating any food left over to the Hollywood Food Coalition.
"We thank them so much for allowing us to be a part of their community for the past four years," Keith said of their customers. "We'll miss them very much."
View this post on Instagram
Hey y’all we have some sad and probably not surprising news. We will be closing our doors on September 30th. I don’t have to tell y’all that things have been hard for small business especially restaurants. They keep saying if you’re mostly take out, you should be fine. But this has simply not been the case for us. We tried to keep our head above water by pivoting to groceries during the intense lock down and we started offering our regular menu in May. But the truth is, we keep going further and further into debt, our PPP loan ran out in July, our sales have been around 25% of what they were pre-COVID, and we have been struggling to decide how and when to just call it. Of course we can’t see the future, but we don’t think things will be going back to “normal” for a while, and even then, the economic impact that COVID has had on all of us will probably be felt for the foreseeable future. We had big dreams when we opened Palette, really wanting to revolutionize the way restaurants are run. We wanted to serve healthy, simple food that was easy to understand and made with love. We wanted to pioneer a 100% local menu. We wanted to reduce the amount of waste that a traditional restaurant creates. We wanted to create an empowering place for people to work. And this is just to name a few things… People told us it couldn’t be done. But thing is, we got so close to achieving all these goals. The only one we missed on was the local part and we got it to 95% which we thought was a win. We only threw away ONE bag of landfill trash a day, and most of the time that wasn’t even full. I’ve worked in restaurants where we threw away a dumpster full of landfill a day. We feel we have been so successful, and this is all thanks to you. To our most wonderful guests in the world, thank you for coming, for supporting us and for getting what we do. We have so much gratitude for the opportunity to serve you. We are thankful for the lessons we have learned along the way. We are thankful for the opportunity to do some good for the planet. We are thankful for the community that has been created here at Palette. This has been a wild ride, we love you all so muc