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Two Special DTLA Businesses Open During COVID-19
Food & Drink / Retail / Retail & Hospitality

Two Special DTLA Businesses Open During COVID-19

Thursday August 6, 2020

At the heart of the Downtown LA neighborhood are its beloved local restaurants and shops. These small businesses, whose owners come from many different backgrounds and all walks of life, have helped shape DTLA into the culturally rich community that we know and love. Two promising additions to this community are Petite Peso and The Donut Man: both owned by people of color, they share the unique distinction of opening during a pandemic.

A Dream Venture Comes to Life

Petite Peso
the Petite Peso team

Petite Peso is a small storefront on 7th Street in the Jewelry District that specializes in fast casual Filipino cuisine. Ria Dolly Barbosa, with partners Robert Villanueva and Tiffany Tanaka, opened the 275-square-foot space in April at the height of the stay-at-home order. While the Filipino American chef Barbosa has been a dynamic presence in LA kitchens for years, Petite Peso is her first brick-and-mortar restaurant featuring her take on “Filipino food with thoughtful ingredients.”

Since opening, Petite Peso has focused on selling its food via takeout and delivery, serving up beloved Filipino flavors with a twist. Sisig salad, adobo French dip sandwiches, and machado pot pie are featured menu items, in addition to a variety of Filipino pastries and family-style meals to go.

“Opening during this time was questionable but it’s made us more resilient, conscious, and confident that we can serve quality food in a clean, controlled environment,” the team stated on Instagram. “We are feeling the love and are excited to share with you the Peso Style of Hospitality.”

Thanks to a menu with unique items like ImpossibleTM meat lumpia – combined with the team’s hospitality and perseverance – Petite Peso has built up a devoted following in just a few short months.  

A Long-Awaited Expansion

The Donut Man
The Donut Man, Jim Nakano (Photo by George Ko)

The Donut Man is another business that opened Downtown during the COVID-19 outbreak. After 48 years running the legendary shop on Route 66 in Glendora, third generation Japanese American Jim Nakano and his wife Miyoko decided the time was right to launch a second location – at DTLA’s Grand Central Market.

A Los Angeles institution and a cult favorite since 1972, The Donut Man is known for its signature fruit-stuffed donuts. Depending on the season, you can get freshly made glazed donuts jam-packed with strawberries or peaches, or one of many other popular items, like the chocolate-striped tiger tail. 

Despite changing tastes and food trends, the Nakanos’ original Glendora storefront has endured – and thrived – over the years. Now entering a new chapter, The Donut Man arrived at Grand Central Market in June and has been satisfying the cravings of Downtowners ever since. 

In a statement on their website, the Nakanos said: “Very few have the privilege to be a part of such a historical landmark that is Grand Central Market. Our invitation to grow in the historic downtown district of Los Angeles is not only a testament to our donuts, but what we stand for. Our goal is to bring not just delicious donuts to the area, but a culture of giving back to the community and building team members who grow and learn from their experiences with us.”

The heart of DTLA’s greatness lies with its people and the indomitable spirit shown by businesses like Petite Peso and The Donut Man. These small business owners are our neighbors and the value they bring to the city is incalculable. They enrich our neighborhood and our lives. 

To celebrate and help them during this challenging time, the DCBID has put together a guide to Downtown Businesses Owned by People of Color. Please join us in showing support for these indispensable members of our community.