Photograph by Hope Leigh

Realizing I don’t love my restaurant anymore is an odd phenomenon. It’s easy to ascribe this feeling to a moment, to the burnout anyone in the hospitality industry can undoubtedly relate to. And it’s difficult to know how any permutation in the events of this past year might have resulted in a different outcome. But, if I’m being honest with myself, these feelings began long before the pandemic set in.

Opening barcito, my neighborhood cafe and cocktail bar, at 26, without partners, required a full immersion of myself — work-life balance assumes the two are distinct, my work was my…

A Los Angeles restaurateur pleads her case and refuses to abandon her ideals

Image courtesy of Hope Leigh

Hey, it’s me, Andrea. That 26-year-old, first-time, downtown Los Angeles-based restaurateur who decided to eliminate tipping. Not trying to toot my own horn here, it’s just that I’m 29 now, and the audacity of my decision is starting to weigh increasingly heavy on me. I’m considering how many before me tried the same and failed, and how hastily I had ascribed those missteps to generalizations like “company culture” or “staff morale.” I made broad assumptions about complex problems and swept anything that didn’t fit my idealistic worldview under the rug.

Andrea Borgen Abdallah

Owner of barcito, an all-day cafe and late-night bar in DTLA’s South Park neighborhood.

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