Columnist: Los Angeles We Love Is Dying

Lamenting the global coronavirus pandemic impacts throughout Los Angeles, particularly the closing of small businesses, L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez fears irreparable harm to the city, its feel, and its people.

“Given that we have no idea how long it will take for commerce to return to normal, I’m beginning to worry about what the Greater Los Angeles landscape is going to look like after the pandemic,” he wrote, first waxing nostalgic about small bookstores before writing about famed restaurants.

Like Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, which was not set up for outdoor dining and faces an uncertain future.

“My heart flipped,” Lopez wrote. “L.A. without Musso & Frank — which just turned 100 — is not L.A. They’d probably put an Outback Steakhouse there, and I’d have to move to San Francisco or somewhere.”

Owner-operator Mark Echeverria vowed to Lopez: “We’re undoubtedly going to open again.”

But Echeverria, too, is concerned for the future of his beloved city.

“I am afraid L.A. is going to lose some of its historical identity,” Echeverria told Lopez. “I think as a city we need to rally around our history and support it as much as we can.”

Lopez himself admitted he recently bought a book on Amazon instead of going to his favorite local book store that is struggling to stay open.

“What a fool and a hypocrite I’d been,” Lopez wrote. “With several months of limited travel and brick-and-mortar shopping excursions during the pandemic, I’d become even more addicted to the convenience of e-commerce. When I realized I could have ordered the same book from Vroman’s, or picked it up in person, I tried to cancel my Amazon order, but it was too late.”

Lopez noted the research of UCLA professor Paul Ong is conducting on the impact of the coronavirus on independently owned businesses in several Los Angeles neighborhoods.

“On average, businesses in ethnic neighborhoods,” Ong tells Lopez, “are not faring as well.

“We suspect that a number of these have gone under, and we’re talking to some community folks close to the ground who are saying that many of these businesses will not be back.”

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