Hey. Umami Burger. You suck.

Seriously, Umami Burger: I usually don’t like to complain.

But two days ago when I was walking past your newish location at 4655 Hollywood Boulevard, you had a chalkboard sign out, right there on the sidewalk, advertising a “late night happy hour” at 10 PM. At this late night happy hour, the sign promised, I would be treated to $4 beer and wine and, for only $6.99, something called a “69er Burger.”

Usually I giggle uncontrollably at any mention of the number 69, but this is no time for merriment. I saw the sign at about 4:00, when I was on my way to the Vista Theater for the 4:20 (STOP GIGGLING DAMMIT) showing of Hot Tub Time Machine (which was reasonably awesome). So I text-messaged my girlfriend and asked her if she’d be awake enough for a burger and beer at 10 PM on a Wednesday night. She said yes, possibly with several exclamation points. There’s no time to check my inbox, Umami Burger, because I’m not finished being pissed at you.

More on why Umami Burger at 4655 Hollywood Boulevard totally sucks after the jump.

Anyway, keep those details straight: An advertisement, right there on the street, for a late night happy hour beginning at 10 PM. We were very excited. We’re a family that enjoys its hamburg steak.

So we were very disappointed to arrive at Umami Burger at 10:10 PM and be ushered out the door by a dude in a bow tie, who told us the place was closed.

“But,” I said. “But…” I tend to stammer when I’m frustrated.

“Sorry, we’re closed,” Bowtie Dude said.

“But there’s a sign out front that says happy hour begins at 10 PM,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s ten minutes after ten, so we’re closed” Bowtie Dude explained helpfully.

“But there’s a sign,” I said again, pointing to the sign. “There’s a sign that says happy hour begins at 10 PM.” Bowtie Dude asserted that he did not write the sign, and therefore the sign should not be taken seriously.

So we went to Pinkberry to cool our jets. Afterward we returned to the scene of the crime to triple-check the sign, this time through the metal grate that serves to deter thieves from breaking into the sucky, sucky Umami Burger at 4655 Hollywood Boulevard. Anyway, I didn’t misread the sign: It advertised a 10 PM happy hour — presumably every day, or at least that day, since no day was specified — during which I could purchase $4 wine and beer and a $6.99 69er Burger. Sadly, it was too dark for our phone-cameras to pick up a good picture, but these were definitely the facts.

So: Screw you, Umami Burger at 4655 Hollywood Boulevard. Screw you first for lying with slate and chalk, and telling me that if I returned at 10 PM I would be rewarded with cheap booze and hilariously named burgers. And screw you second for having employees who display such indifference and such extreme not-giving-a-shit-ness that you permanently lose customers as a result. I was looking forward to trying one of your sandwiches, but it’s not like there’s such a shortage of good burgers in LA that I’d have to rescind my principles and enter your crappy establishment.

Please, Umami Burger at 4655 Hollywood Boulevard: Stop lying.

28 Replies to “Hey. Umami Burger. You suck.”

  1. Thanks for the heads up, I actually had *heard* some things about them good, bad and indifferent through the usual rumor mills. Will take your first hand experience to heart. Did you yelp it?

  2. I hadn’t thought of it. I guess I could post something on Yelp, but my experience with Yelp is that everyone who posts on it has an axe to grind, so I don’t want my comments to get lost in the mix.

    In their defense, I have heard that their burgers are “pretty good.”

  3. Their burgers are certifiably fantastic. Sorry you had to deal with humans. We’re headed back down to the Cahuenga location for more burgers today. Will report back if humans there are sub-standard.

  4. Been there once. Burger were good. And by “good” i mean, they were tasty- but they were the tiniest burger I’ve ever been served as a meal. Left there hungry. Have not been back, and will definitely not go out of my way to go back.

  5. are you f’ing kidding…so they closed early one night, move on…why do you feel so entitled? in any other country in the world, they’d slap you for making such an outcry. restaurants, like any other business, make changes, adjustments, etc…if they’re closed, they’re closed, you shouldn’t argue the fact with an employee…he probably just wants to go home, just like you would if you worked there. smaller restaurants are typically more susceptible to this type of critique, which is sad, because they can’t compete with the likes of 24-hr we’ll always make you happy fast food dispensaries like Jack in the Box, McDonalds, and so forth.

  6. Well, a “smaller restaurant” (it’s not like Umami Burger is some struggling mom-and-pop diner, y’know…) then should be even more conscientious about not alienating potential repeat customers.

    I worked in retail, so I know that the “customer is always right” dictum means that a lot of people think that they have the right to treat anyone in the service profession like dirt and expect a smile in return. But to give someone the bum’s rush to close the restaurant without an explanation WHEN THEY WERE ADVERTISING THAT THEY WERE OPEN is not good business.

    Kevin–did you contact them to explain the situation? I would think that if you explained what happened, and they still didn’t care, then you have every right to blast away.

  7. Evan: I did call, as soon as I got home, and left a very detailed message, and I asked someone to please call me back the next day to explain the situation. I deliberately waited to make this post so as to give Umami a chance to respond to my call. I never got a call back. And overall I agree with your take on customer relations; sometimes mistakes happen, and as a customer you need to be patient about it. My girlfriend and I take this pretty far; we’ve even gone so far as to accost customers who are rude to their servers/cashiers/what-have-you. We’re all hurtling through space on the same rock.

    And to Mr. Seriously, I would say this: (1) Grammar, capital letters and punctuation actually do matter, and (2) Reading comprehension matters too. Maybe you should read and digest material before committing to your idiotic suggestions that business owners and their employees be allowed to slap any patrons who complain. You’re an idiot. Or, to put it in terms you can understand: your an idiot.

  8. Hhaha, really funny. You’re a really good comedic writer. I tried Umami Burger on La Brea once. It was fairly decent, although (and some might shoot me for this), i still prefer in n out.

  9. This is Adam, the owner of Umami. I checked out the sign and it indeed did not mention the specific days of the late night happy hour. To rectify the situation I have extended our service until 11 PM daily and midnight on Friday and Saturdays. Please accept our apologies and give us another try.

  10. A big (non-sarcastic)round of applause for Adam! Thanks for your response. In the future I’d hope that your employees be a little more cognizant of what’s being advertised, and a little less rude and indifferent to potential customers who are confused when those advertisements aren’t honored. But I understand the restaurant business is a hectic one, and that people get tired at the end of a shift.

    Cheers. Thanks for being on top of this.

  11. Glad to see Adam acknowledged the problem, and mistakes happen. The bigger problem I see is the Umami employee’s rudeness/indifference to the problem. Typos and poorly thought out signage are human error and forgivable. Crappy customer service not as much, no matter how good the burger is.

  12. Go across the street to Yuca’s for a good burger. Cheap and delicious!! Take down Ucrappys address down. Your just promoting their shittiness!

  13. Doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    Let me share a little anecdote about the treatment I received from Adam Fleischman (the owner) NOT one of his employees. I’ll preface this by saying that as an Angeleno of 13 years and a true burger aficionado, Umami really does have good burgers. HOWEVER, the service is terrible — don’t take my word for it, read reviews on Citysearch, Yelp, and Chowhound.

    Adam Fleischman is quite possibly the rudest owner of a restaurant I have ever encountered. My basis for saying this is as follows: Beginning about six weeks after they opened, I frequented the Umami Burger on La Brea numerous times and in fact was recommending it to numerous people during that time.

    On my final visit last fall, after finishing my meal and enduring a 45 minute wait for a waiter to either offer dessert, the check or even a fill up on water, I got Mr. Fleischman’s attention to inform him about the poor service from his waiter. After explaining the situation calmly and respectfully, he proceed to very sarcastically tell me off, finishing me with “What do you want me to do, reprimand him?” I might add that while they were a little busy they were by no means “in the weeds.”

    Let me be clear, I am extraordinarily forgiving when it comes to bad service but the one thing I cannot abide is an owner being rude to me when confronted with overtly bad service by their staff. I’m not speaking of snooty owners, I’m talking about an owner being caustically rude to a regular customer while making no effort to apologize or resolve situation that was so clearly within his power.

    Suffice it so say, I haven’t been back since then and instead of recommend it, I tell everyone about his abysmal customer service.

    I thought you all should know.

  14. ACTUALLY, the sign DID say Friday & Saturday @ 10pm. Kevin OTT, you are a moron and need to probably check your glasses. Umami Burger is the BEST burger in LA & the location on 4655 Hollywood Blvd. is actually by far the nicest to sit down and enjoy a good meal. Why would they have a happy hour past 10pm during the week? If you actually eat at Umami Burger on Hollywood Blvd. you would know that they close at 10pm throughout the week and stay open later on the weekend. Looks like you need to get your facts straight before you blast a solid restaurant. Well, as for me I will continue to eat there

  15. I had a similarly shitty experience at Umami Burger at Fred Segal. I went last Friday and arrived around 1:30pm with a co-worker. We walked in and one of their employees began talking to the two people who walked in ahead of us. I guess he assumed we were with them, as they walked away, and he turned to chit chat with one of the tables. We stood there, wondering why the other people had turned away, and waited for Guy #1 to turn around. He didn’t. So we ventured further into the restaurant to talk to Guy #2:

    “Hi, can we get a table for 2?”
    Guy #2: “No, I’m sorry, we’re not taking anymore tables for lunch.”
    “But…It’s only 1:30.” (and mind you, the place is packed with other guests)
    Guy #2: “Yeah but we have to close to get ready for dinner. You can come back when we’re open for dinner.”

    Uh…but we’re hungry NOW and it’s only 1:30. We walked outside, dumbfounded, and asked a girl if we could place an order to go. She told us the same thing, no, they were closing to get ready for dinner.

    So that was my first and only Umami Burger experience. After hearing your story too, I don’t have much motivation to “try again.”

    Big bummer after wanting to go for a year and finally getting around to it.

  16. Many of the most vociferously argued, and dirtily-fought arguments on this site’s comments have been over restaurants. It always amazes me how nasty the restaurant business can get. I’ve never been to Umami, but I’d heard good things about the taste–and nothing about the service. Now I have a different frame of reference. It’s sad that one disgruntled or rude staffperson can so severely damage the rep of a restaurant.

    Bill, you make no sense. I call shill.

  17. Had to jump in here. This place is in walking distance from me. One night after this place had been open for a month or so we went to check it out a reasonable 7:30pm or so. Only had a handful of customers were in sight but we were informed of a 45 minute wait to “seat” because the chef was running behind.

    You have to be f’ing kidding me right?

    We watched as two other couples were basically turned away as well.

    Proud to say I just keep on walking by every time I pass this establishment.

  18. @ace: I also had a similar experience with the owner when I went there on La Brea. Adam was our server, and it was my first time eating there. The menu is not descriptive at all, and I asked what came on the burger and was rudely and sarcastically informed, “Umami.” No sh*t, but I didn’t know what umami was (still don’t) so I asked more. He rolled his eyes and was more than put off when I specifically asked if mayonnaise came on the burger. When the burger did come out, it was raw on the inside. Like, you could see grinder marks in the beef. Needless to say, I had to send it back to be cooked more.

    The burger was good, not great, and I honestly would have considered going again for another shot but the service and all around rudeness has caused me to stay away. In and Out is just as good. Umami just has more butter.

  19. Hey Kevin Ott, you suck at writing. I base this on this one bad experience I had where I read a blog post where you unfairly criticized a fantastic burger joint because you’re a whiny biatch. But one bad experience entitles me to say you suck on the internet.

    1. You totally suck at internet commenting. Based on this one experience where you posted anonymously like a whiny biatch because someone called out a restaurant you like even though they legit did something lame.

      Suck Suck Suck. Everybody’s a whiny biatch. Deal with it.

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