Hash is Playa Vista’s version of a friendly neighborhood diner, and word is spreading fast
By Jessica Koslow
Hash. It’s a breezy word, with a few different meanings. Merriam-Webster lists it as “chopped meat mixed with potatoes and browned.” Or, “a confused muddle.” Apparently, it’s also Irish slang, used to refer to mixing things up completely. And then, of course, there’s … well, you know.
It’s almost as if the mind wanders automatically when hearing or uttering the word. Hash … in a subtle way, whispers “hunger.”
Which makes it the perfect name for an eatery tucked down a side street off Bluff Creek Drive, surrounded by large office buildings on the Campus at Playa Vista.
Pop in any weekday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., order, take a seat with your number, wait for the food to arrive and look around — you’re in the company of the young and industrious types who populate the nearby offices of companies like Yahoo, YouTube, 72andSunny and Science 37.
On weekends, the hours are the same but Hash is a little less crowded, but you’ll still find Loyola Marymount University students, travelers who recently arrived at LAX and, of course, plenty of Playa Vista residents.
The single-room spot, which opened about six months ago, offers validation in the parking garage next door (90 minutes on weekdays and all day long on weekends), but most customers arrive on foot or by bike — some in couples, others with dogs, and mostly in chatty groups.
German Leonne, one of the restaurant’s partners, is a ball of energy, bouncing from table to table making sure everyone has everything they ordered; and every person is greeted with a friendly smile and a big hello.
“Hello, thank you for coming in! … Your bagel’s coming right up. … Please sit anywhere. … I’ll have that table cleaned up right now.”
Leonne’s had one foot in the restaurant business ever since he was a boy growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, and then Houston, Texas. His parents owned a variety of restaurants, from fine dining to cafeteria-style.
About three years ago, longtime friends Leonne and Peter Georges decided to go into the restaurant business together. The Greek restaurant Rodini Park in North Hollywood was their first venture together. It’s fresh, healthy and fast, with a catering service and baked goods made fresh daily.
And now Rodini Park Greek Kitchen is coming to Playa Vista. Hash, it turns out, is just the first step in a three-part plan.
In the next few months, a lounge called The Conference Room is scheduled to open next door with beer, wine and coffee from around world — plus tapas, dancing lessons at happy hour, and special events like a speakeasy night. Rodini Park is also scheduled to launch its second location.
But for now, Hash stands alone. A funny chalkboard sign welcomes visitors: “’That’s too much bacon,’ said nobody ever.” A few seats are available inside at a long stand-up bar, more tables and heat lamps are set up outside, and additional seating is next door in a spacious gallery-like room.
Hash is casual. Food is served on paper plates with disposable utensils. They cater for breakfast and lunch to the surrounding offices. And, as hidden as they are, “People are loving what we’re doing,” says Leonne — and that rings true, with steady lines and packed tables visible throughout the day.
People are “helping and Yelping,” says Leonne, who shares that people are going crazy over the carrot cake waffle with pineapple inside and cream cheese drizzle on top. The waffle is a breakfast treat that Georges, who grew up in New York, would drive 1½ hours just to get. He had to have it on the menu.
You can order super fluffy pancakes, a killer quesadilla, gluten-free and vegetarian options, a Bebop Bowl (Asian-style brown rice, eggs, shredded beef, spinach, green onions, sautéed mushrooms, pickled veggies) or Chiquitas & Gringos (chilaquiles with crisp tortilla chips, eggs, choice of protein, cheese, pickled onions, salsa verde and red chili crema).
If you haven’t yet happened on Hash, look for these clues. There are two signs on the sidewalk — one on Bluff Creek Drive and another on Campus Center Drive — and if you enter the courtyard from either side, you’ll see orange umbrellas in the distance, where chef Gena Lora is whipping up tasty dishes and Leonne is making sure his customers smile.