Chefs and Downtown Pretensions

It is no secret that I live in downtown Los Angeles, which, like every downtown with boosters, has Pretensions with a capital P. It is a truism in the world of politics (and in markets) that perceptions are more important than reality. But so far in real estate, pretension has worked out for downtown Los Angeles. For example, last night on our way back from a dinner party in Venice, Homey elected to drive up Main Street. South Main Street in Los Angeles at 10 o’clock at night on a Saturday is utterly, utterly devoid of human life, full of litter—a craphole to be vulgar. A mere block away in my building, somebody is offering their 1,800 square-foot loft for sale for $900,000.

Nine. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. For 1,800 square feet that places you in without a doubt one of the lousiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Say what you want about Compton, at least there are people on the street during the evening, other than the ones looking for a discreet storefront they can use for a urinal.

Somebody needs to explain this to me. Explain to me why you would spend nearly a million for a small place in a crappy neighborhood when for the same money you could live on the lavish and truly lovely westside of Los Angeles. Class envy on my part notwithstanding, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Brentwood–these are amazing, amenity-filled locations, including proximity to the beach. My part of downtown has only just gotten a restaurant or two that stays open past lunchtime and it is an hour drive to the ocean, and a two-hour bus ride.

Nine. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars.

We are engaging in the pretense that Los Angeles is the next New York, with our sky-high downtown real estate prices, even though Los Angeles is not New York for good reasons.

I am ranting about this today because of the cupcake incident yesterday. My mild-mannered husband and I went to Bottega Louie, one of downtown LA’s newest pretense-laden places. In general, it’s quite good, and the renovation is lovely. However, poor Andy sat, ignored, in front of their service counter for about five minutes while one of their staff arranged their cupcakes so that she could take a picture of them with her iPhone. She caught his eye, and then purposely ignored him, going back to her cupcake arrangement, saying nothing.

Later, one of their stellar, friendly wait staff did actually come to take Andy’s order, and this person explained that the other staff was a chef and therefore did not wait on patrons.

Can we just get over ourselves for a fracking second here? You’re a chef–a chef in charge of cupcakes, for heaven’s sakes, one of your easier baked goods to master–and you are willing to potentially lose a customer for your team because you are too good to stop fiddling with your cupcakes to say “I”ll find somebody to help you here–just give me a sec.” Making pie dough? Stretching strudel dough? Sure, I’ll let you concentrate. Taking poor-quality digital images of your cupcakes? I think this is a task that one maybe might be safe to interrupt for the sake of acknowledging your fellow man’s existence and putting a good face on the business that employs you. I’m not one of those people who thinks that wait staff need to be hyper-friendly, but yo.

Oh, and by the way….the cupcakes aren’t that good, so boo boo nyah.