Chef Ray Garcia walks into the burgeoning ghost / virtual kitchen space with both feet, teasing plans on social media for a new delivery-only restaurant called MILA, abbreviation of Made In Los Angeles.
“It’s a taqueria, in the sense of Ray Garcia”, explains the chef, who currently owns and operates Broken spanish in the city center and previously ran BS Taqueria from a separate space not far from 7th Street. “He’s going to have a lot of emphasis on technique and ingredients.”
The new operation will not be a redesign of BS Taqueria under a different name. The recipes and formatting are unique to MILA, and Garcia believes the ghost kitchen model makes it radically different and more scalable.
âIt’s not BS Taqueria,â Garcia said. âIt won’t be a cut and paste of what we’ve done before. It’ll be in the spirit of what a lot of people liked about BS, but we made it different.
The plan is to open up MILA in the coming weeks, working in a delivery department that spans throughout the city center to begin with, as Garcia will start by using the existing broken Spanish kitchen to make all of MILA’s tacos. . The menu will begin with six main courses – three meat tacos and three vegetarian tacos, including dishes like a calabacitas version, and several sides.
Future locations could expand the brand across town, using existing ghost kitchen spaces in neighborhoods like Koreatown, the Westside, Hollywood and even Pasadena. âIt’s a mark that’s going to be there for a while,â Garcia said, âI’m touching wood.â MILA will be available on all usual delivery applications; customers will have to order in advance and won’t be able to simply go to Broken Spanish to order MILA food, although Garcia is hoping that expanding his name into the ghost cooking arena may ultimately help attract more customers in his restaurant also seated.
Increasingly, large restaurateurs have embarked on the ghost kitchen / delivery restaurant model only as a way to both consolidate business lost due to the pandemic and ensure a strong business for the future as delivery is increasingly becoming a part of everyday life – coronavirus or not. Over the past few months, corporate giant SBE has jumped into the virtual kitchen space with several different delivery catering concepts, as has H. Wood Group. On a smaller scale, Culver City’s longtime fried chicken restaurant Honey’s Kettle has signed a deal to expand into new parts of Los Angeles with its own delivery restaurant idea.
âPart is liberating and part is scary,â Garcia says of moving into the delivery space while running his popular Broken Spanish restaurant downtown. “I love the challenge of trying to establish some kind of experience and connection with the customer, through the food itself.”
âThe current environment has accelerated things a bit,â Garcia says of the current uncertain business climate. âIt changed the variables of the equation, at least for the foreseeable future. Having extra square footage is really not an advantage. I’m in downtown LA across from a convention center, gym, music center – who knows when they’ll reopen.
MILA starts early next month for lunch and dinner, starting five days a week, with plans to expand hours and locations in the future. Garcia says MILA will also eventually act as an âumbrellaâ brand, paving the way for Tacos MILA, Tortas MILA, Burritos MILA and beyond.