Last Friday I decided to get away from my regular food spots. Spots which are regular only because they’re walking distance. I like to think I’m too busy to drive somewhere to eat lunch; however, I'm more likely too lazy. Gav and I jumped in the car and descended on La Isla Bonita on Rose Avenue, which I must admit is also walking distance from the shop. If you haven’t heard about this slice of heaven, I envy you. Envy because it’s better than ecstasy, and the first time you have La Isla Bonita will be mind blowing. I once watched a documentary about a guy that first took ecstasy when he was 27 years old. He had the night of his life and instantly wanted to relive the feeling. Over the course of the next year, he took ecstasy every weekend, but it never lived up to that first night. He tried every style or strength of the drug to regain this initial feeling, but no dose or brand of pill could compare to that first magical taste. Disappointed from the constant let downs, he decided to research why he couldn’t have that same experience. Science told him that he needed to build up his serotonin again. Thus, he decided not do any drugs for another 27 years in hopes of having one more night like the first. Anyway i’ll get to the point, La Isla Bonita is better than ecstasy and it will live up to your expectations everytime, serotonin replenishment not required. How else would a business survive 25 plus years in the ever gentrifying Venice beach?
Standing in line anxiously waiting to order, I got a chance to see worlds collide. It was a scene in Venice that no other restaurant has been able to replicate. There were tech nerds dressed up like queens and tattooed thuggish looking locals. Everyone was there for the same reason and it created mutual respect, if only for a brief moment. I sat somewhere in between, dressed in my skinny jeans and designer shirt. Over the last few years Venice has become fairly divided. The new dislike the old and the old despise the new. It’s easy to see and fairly obvious (redundant, maybe something like "a wonder tensions have yet to boil over"). To a certain extent, I understand both sides, but possibly due to prejudices, the opposing sides seem to miss the fact that there are truly great people on both teams. Through surfing, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know both cultures of Venice. I have made great friends at the glorified pile of rocks known as the Breakwater, some grew up here and some immigrated with the tech boom. The goal of General Admission from day one was to bring the worlds together, and La Isla Bonita on Friday afternoon proved to be a perfect model.
While standing in line on Friday, I started rapping out with a gent in his mid fifties. My new friend was born and raised in Venice and as blue collar as they come. He’s been a victim of gentrification and had to move away from his hometown about 5 years ago. His family was expanding and he could no longer afford to live in his beloved community. He wasn’t mad though. He understands the way the world works and has created a great construction business off the new folk. We chatted about where we grew up and his( you said this was your first time eating there) favorite item on the menu and then he said to me, ’You wanna hear something cool?’ I’m always interested in learning some kind of new info that I can pass on at a later stage and say ‘yeah what you got for me'. He proceeds to tell me ‘You see the pregnant lady that’s taking orders. When I was 27 years old, I used to order from her mom when she was pregnant with her. I’m 52 now and I bet you in 18 years time i’ll be ordering from the child in her belly. If I’m still alive of course!’ He laughed uncontrollably for a few seconds. Amazed by this feat I replied, 'what makes you so sure?' He shrugged his shoulder and said,’ I bet you… That will be 4 generations of family provided for by a food truck. It’s a beautiful thing and to me that’s what the American dream is." I was shocked because a few weeks ago I was watching the TV show called The Profit and I learned that most family run businesses these days rarely last more than two generations.
Being apart of a new business, I think a lot about longevity and creating a legacy, or at least something people will miss if it’s gone. La Isla Bonita has created a legacy, not only in the food truck world but where you can get the best ceviche north of the border. They became known for something early on and didn’t let anything compromise it. They’ve been turning out the same incredible recipe since day dot. They also didn’t jack up the prices like most new businesses to the area. Rents are high, as is the cost of living, which makes creating something that’s affordable for people from all walks of life even more special. For La Isla Bonita, regardless of location, the people will flock. We will scout them out and be loyal until the day we die. I will and I hope one day my kids get to order from this piece of Venice History.
*La Isla Bonita is a food truck located 400 Rose Avenue. Now go….
Photos by Josh Reed.