L.A. Magazine and Gentrification of GCM

Interesting piece in Los Angeles Magazine on the gentrification at Grand Central Market:


"I enjoy seeing the market so full of life, the city’s exuberant food scene converging with downtown’s comeback, but I also find myself feeling uneasy about how much I like it. I liked the old market, too, but maybe I liked the idea of it more than the reality. A food hall that does not feed the imagination is at risk of becoming mummified. And yet if I like today’s reality more—I join friends here, I bring out-of-towners—I am perhaps less than enchanted with my socioeconomics having been the catalyst for the upgrade: the market reengineered to appeal to people like me, our expectations and tastes.

The shorthand for everything happening at Grand Central is, of course, gentrification, a term whose meaning has been muddled and politicized. It can stand for dislocation, the loss of control that has piqued working-class communities of color across L.A., where moneyed interests have been pressuring rents and disrupting folkways. It can also stand for the regeneration of communities that have suffered isolation and neglect, undoing white flight, making them more diverse, not less. Befitting a city built largely by people from somewhere else, both versions on occasion happen in the same place, at the same time."


Legacy tenants have to a pay a % of their sales? Or else!

WTF is that?

Triad style extortion

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It’s business. The new tenants already pay a %

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That’s a pretty common lease arrangement.

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Okay. I clearly don’t know restaurant business. Carry on

i think this is also the arrangement with the FM at 3rd/Fairfax. I could be wrong but a friend who I haven’t talked to in a zillion years runs a place in there and I believe that’s what he told me when they first moved in. I believe the fee goes to the market for the people who come around and clear the tables. He told me this so long ago, so I could be wrong.

it’s really not limited to the restaurant industry though, many retail locations in hot areas have % of gross sales as part of the lease agreement.

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I represented the GCM in a few PI cases back in the 90s when Mr.Yellin was the driving force behind it. I suspect he would very much approve of the updated GCM.


As someone who was there from Day 1 of this project I will tell you this:

Place was literally a shithole that smelled like pissed. You have meth and alcohol addicts trying to steal tip jars.

Almost half the spaces were not rented out. The old school taco joints that people love? Their food sucks and most Mexicans know it because they go support the real good ones in their own surrounding neighborhoods (such as Huntington Park, Boyle Heights, Echo Park (before it got hipster).

Gentrification implies that somebody got pushed out but honestly at first they were filling empty stalls nobody was getting pushed out. You still have longtime Latino customers eating side by side with yuppie hipster cliques even today.

Those who did get pushed out did because they would not evolve. For example the two shitty Chines steam table places that existed where Sticky Rice Too/2, Ramen Hood and the fish taco place are now were given plenty of chances to adapt and evolve and stop selling their disgusting food. The management was willing to help them modernize and suggested they try serving more authentic Chinese food. They were longtime tenants and the management recognized it and gave them the opportunity to be part of the new vision for GCM even though they weren’t even on a lease (in fact they were all on a month to month contract and the market could have shut them down any time).

The guy who ran the liquor store in the article? His business attracted the scum of LA and honestly I don’t even know why he wanted to keep working so bad anyway. It fails to mention that his son is also famous actor Daniel Kim so his grievance is probably more pride and hurt ego than monetary.

Try telling me GCM is worse than it was before the new vendors started showing up and I’ll remind you that you are lucky that when you go to GCM you don’t have to deal with a disgusting restroom where homeless people would be showering or maybe even masturbating. Is that the GCM you fondly remember? I remember because I lived it for two years.


Lol, preach it brother. I remember going to Grand Central Market with my dad when I was a little kid. It was a special outing, and he would buy crates of fruit (have I mentioned I have three brothers?), and I would get an ice-cream or a pan dulce. It was all very exciting and fascinating.

Then, when I was working downtown a few years ago, I dropped in for nostalgia’s sake and it was disgusting. I went about a quarter way into the market, then left as quickly as I could. They could have filmed a season of American Horror Story there.

Who’s saying GCM is worse? The author clearly says he likes the changes. I thought the article was pretty nicely balanced and was using the changes at GCM as a way to look and to think about much larger changes that are happening city-wide.

I myself have no problem w/ “gentrification” (esp in this instance) but, in other instances, there can be more of a clear loss. And, for those of us who don’t work in the food industry but DO work in industries where it’s vital that we be aware of the pros and cons of these kind of societal changes, articles like this (and your response) are really helpful and thought-provoking, actually.

Just my $0.02.


I do think the author while providing his point of view from what he knows, people may take it the wrong way especially because there’s much he doesn’t know as an outsider and I think he should have provided other viewpoints as well. I think it’s important that we know both sides of the story. His article states that another one of the Korean operators who was told to close up shop to make way for Golden Road. I think he should have also pointed out that it sold bullshit “pharmaceuticals” and nutrients. Nobody is missing that except for the crazy people who think chugging pills of sesame powder will cure their cancer.

Also whats the purpose of detailing out the debt of Grand Central Market? Sure it’s public knowledge and out there but what reason is there to spend a significant portion of the article to lay it all out there? Is he trying to suggest that GCM is not financially sustainable, is there a hidden agenda here? I don’t get so much the connotation that he likes the market so much as I feel he is questioning its future. I dont feel the article adds anything new or substantial to the debate about GCM’s changes and I think people reading this article should take it with a grain of salt. Maybe he should have integrated himself with the Mexican vendors and not Wexlers. Why doesn’t his article get statements or quotes about what their thoughts are on the changes at GCM? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be so gloomy if he published their opinions.


Well, to be fair, the author did write that Jo ran a “holistic apothecary” and then later stated that Yellin’s response “argue[d] that to the extent Kim and Jo suffered anything, their own ‘intentional, negligent and/or poor business practices and/ or other culpable conduct’ were to blame.”

If you’re not arguing w/ the numbers presented, it would seem that GCM actually is in a lot of financial trouble. I didn’t read the article as stating that this had anything to do w/ gentrification. On the contrary, I thought that the article made it clear that the “agenda” is to make GMC profitable and that the business model in this case for doing that to try to bring in a clientele that will spend more $$$, which means bringing in higher-quality, higher-price point businesses. Not a bad idea at all, IMHO.

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The reason for detailing it is, the proposed resolution of the huge debt requires taxpayers to eat $37 million of GCM debt, whether or not you think the chunk of debt should be forgiven, transparency is a must in this situation.


The only thing I really miss from the old market was the juice stand. It was so old fashion and looked like one of the health food places from the 20s. Maybe it’s there still but I can’t find it.

I also used to get spices down there, and there were some pretty good fruit sellers. It’s nice that it’s popular in some ways, but so popular that three people cannot easily find a place to eat is too much for me. I’m going to wait for to become a little less fashionable before I go back down.