The Studio City branch of the Koo Koo Restaurant has closed. Other locations seem to still be in business. I wonder why they haven’t all shut down?
When this cheap chicken joint opened about 12 years ago, inside a cavernous old bank space, it seemed that Studio City had gained a healthy and good tasting place to eat.
Crowds packed the place for lunch and dinner. With its fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, roasted turkey and salad bar, Koo Koo Roo offered affordability and taste.
But something was not right here. For example, one never knew where the line was. Customers would be in multiple lines, not quite understanding who was served next.
The menu was badly written. There was skinned chicken and chicken with skin. One or two or three side vegetables came with multiple priced dishes. When it came time to pay, the process was as enlightening and simple as an insurance claim.
Beverages were self-serve and nobody knew that the small button next to the Mountain Dew dispenser dispensed water.
Instead of bringing the cooked dishes to the seated customer, as they do at California Chicken Café, someone screamed out your number and you rushed forward to collect your not-always-hot plate. When you returned to your table, someone else might be sitting there.
Dusty plastic fruit and vegetable decorations danced around the décor, contradicting the authenticity of freshness the chain claimed. A stomach-wrenching, nose-curdling bathroom smell welcomed the diners who entered from the back entrance. Pee, shit and commercial air fresheners competed with broiled chicken to entice diners.
Employees were badly trained and sometimes manned the register, shoveled mashed potatoes onto the plate, or went missing. Confused, disordered, befuddled, the wait staff was left to devise a system that was rarely enacted and barely understood.
Unemployed actors, retired seniors, families with children; the heart and soul, bread and butter, chicken with two sides folks who ate here: they shall never, ever forget Koo Koo Roo. But the larger world, beyond Studio City, is indifferent to the death of this restaurant.
Like most of us in Hollywood, Koo Koo Roo was once young and popular, but it flipped and fell and never quite got on its feet and eventually will be forgotten.