Trois Mec, which earned a Michelin Star in 2019, is the latest Los Angeles restaurant to throw in the white napkin after the pandemic destroyed its profits.
“The reality is we are facing an incredible period of economic depression,” Krissy Lefebvre, who co-owns the restaurant with husband and chef Ludo Lefebvre, said in an email to CNN.
“Fine dining will be a rocky journey for the foreseeable future.”
The news comes almost two weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that all counties must close indoor activities at restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums. Bars had to close all operations.
The number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in California also continues to rise, according to a press release from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). California has reported the most cases (452,288) so far and more than 8,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
More of CNN's coronavirus coverage
Trois Mec, which opened in 2013, was an intimate 28-seat restaurant with an open kitchen, where Chef Ludo was known for making culinary masterpieces in front of his customers.
The late Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold included the restaurant on his top 101 restaurant list, writing in 2017 that LA was lucky to have “a chef capable of running grand kitchens who prefers to cook for just 24 people at a time, from behind the counter of a converted mini-mall pizzeria.”
“Lefebvre works an ecstatic improvisational groove similar to what you might find from the best Parisian bistronomy chefs, erasing the hierarchy of ingredients,” Gold wrote. “You don’t come to eat anything specific here. You come to taste what Lefebvre is cooking.”
Prior to opening Trois Mec, Ludo, who trained in in France for 12 years, became known in Los Angeles as the “pop-up king,” according to his website. From 2007 to 2012, he did a restaurant tour called “LudoBites,” which helped popularize the pop-up restaurant business model.
The Lefebvre’s also own Le Petit Trois, which is next door to Trois Mecs and remains open for takeout, and Petit Trois le Valley, which currently remains open and has sidewalk dining available, Krissy Lefebvre said.
Krissy Lefebvre said she and her husband will continue to help Jose Andres, another luminary chef, by preparing meals for the poor inside the Trois Mec space.
“For as long it is needed we will serve the needs of Jose Andres and the incredible mission of World Central Kitchen,” she said, referring to the award-winning chef’s charity organization. “We will try to hold on to the space.”
The closures reflect an ongoing nationwide trend in the restaurant industry. Sixty percent of restaurants that shut down during the pandemic are now closed for good, according to a recent report from Yelp, the online service that provides crowd-sourced reviews.
“The restaurant industry now reflects the highest total business closures, recently surpassing retail,” Yelp said. As of July 10, Yelp found 26,160 total restaurant closures, an increase of 2,179 since June 15.
Dustin Lancaster, founder and president of An Eastside Establishment, has so far lost three of his 13 Los Angeles restaurants and bars in the pandemic: his FireHouse Hotel bar and kitchen, The Hi Hat club and his Crawford’s restaurant in Burbank.
Lancaster said he fears five more of his establishments will close by January.
“It’s almost too overwhelming for me to actually you know, lay in bed at night and process without breaking down, just from the sheer weight of it, ” Lancaster told CNN.
Still, he believes it’s dangerous to eat indoors.
“Having people in bars and restaurants, is not safe,” Lancaster said. “If masks are the key to everything, how can we let people inside of the space to take your mask off to eat and drink? The logic behind that makes no sense.”
Lancaster adds most of his restaurants have little space for outside dining and they are on life support with a Covid-19 vaccine not available soon.
“If we talk about 2021 being our best case scenario, I don’t know how we’re expected to survive,” Lancaster said. “If you were to drive down Sunset Blvd. and think four out of five of these restaurants won’t be there. That collateral damage is incomprehensible.”
Lancaster, the Lefebvres and other restaurant owners are calling on Congress to pass a $120 billion relief bill meant to keep eateries and bar open, and their workers employed.
They want patrons to show support for the proposed legislation on saverestaurants.com
“The restaurant industry is in a true crisis,” Krissy Lefebvre said, “and without proper support from the federal government, it will become a fond memory, life pre-Covid and life post-Covid.”
CNN’s Jennifer Selva, Jay Croft, Saba Hamedy and Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report