For the first time in nearly a year, the Hoxton’s ground-level restaurant, Lovely Rita, will resume service under new leadership.
The business, which hasn’t fed guests since last fall, is scheduled to welcome back those customers Oct. 15, with chef Joel Lui-Kwan taking the helm in the kitchen following a split from Joshua McFadden’s Submarine Hospitality restaurant group. That partnership came to an end March 2020.
Liu-Kwan will oversee the food program throughout the property, which includes popular rooftop hang Tope and the speakeasy-style Basement—the latter of which has yet to reopen due to the pandemic.
The lobby-adjacent space nestled on the edge of Old Town-Chinatown will function as a lounge/work area during the day called Little Rita before transitioning into a full restaurant in the evening, though guests can order beer, wine and cocktails there all day long.
Liu-Kwan’s menu is an ode to the Pacific Northwest, with dishes that use ingredients from local purveyors, including a seared salmon accompanied by saffron-braised lobster mushrooms as well as a pan-roasted pork chop served with smoked apple jam and fingerling potatoes.
However, you’ll also be able to find specialty items sourced from abroad, like a Spanish octopus appetizer, and food influenced by his Hawaiian upbringing in the Off Menu experience. That personalized family-style meal allows the chef to get creative by going off script and costs $75 per person. Guests have the option of adding wine or beer pairings for $50 more.
And for anyone who still feels a bit nervous about eating out as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to remain high, there is “The Apartment.” The dining cubby is all yours once you book it and physically distanced from other people.
This isn’t the first time Lovely Rita has gone through an overhaul. After originally opening in 2018 with Mexican cuisine as La Neta, the restaurant was rebranded a year later. That’s when then-executive chef Johnny Leach revamped the menu, stocking it with bistro classics and vegetable-heavy dishes. Brunch service also began in late 2019, with the Latin fare finding a home upstairs in Tope.
Upon reopening, all guests, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks while moving about the restaurant and hotel. The staff will also be donning face coverings and regularly sanitizing high-touch surfaces as an extra precaution, including a Sanitation Tsar who disinfects all areas every hour.