Mini Bites can't fill Jayburger's empty bun. Or can it?
If there is a hamburger heaven, Jay's Jayburgers is surely in it. When I first moved to Silver Lake in 1999, it was my late-night refuge. I soaked up an evening's worth of Red Lion wheat beer with one of those famously juicy, egg-topped meat patties and a whole handful of mouth-numbing pickled peppers. Sometimes I added a bag of chips (there were no fries, which bothered some people, but not me).
When Jay's shut down more than three years ago, after a contentious rent and land battle with its landlords, who were building a mini mall on the same corner where the then 58-year-old burger stand stood, there was a brief public outcry. But when the brooding chain link fence went up around Jay's apple-red exterior, and the landlords razed the graffiti-covered brick warehouse that was once the skate-punk art house and music venue Juvee, the clamor tapered off. The scene was set and the era of Jay's rule in yellow yolk and ground beef was over.
Soon, a hideous, squat glass structure glistened on the corner of Virgil and Santa Monica, lording over the hapless burger stand like an architectural Attila the Hun. When the stand re-opened under different ownership, it was Sean's Burger. I never tried a Sean's burger. I didn't have the heart. I think many Jayburger devotees felt similarly because Sean's recently shut down after a two-year run.
Then just yesterday I drove by and saw that the little stand is being reincarnated again. This time as a place named Mini Bites. (Eating L.A. also posted about this earlier this week.) The sign spelling out Mini Bites is written like a spray-painted tag on what looks like corrugated tin, and there are a slew of varnished wooden benches in the shadow of the mini mall. A sign promises, "Better taste, better service."
We'll see about that. Now, if I can just muster up the heart to revisit that battered site of tragic, meaty loss...
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times