In 2008 Chef Monica May and Owner Kristen Trattner opened the Nickel Diner. Located on one of the most notorious blocks of Skid Row, the restored 1940’s diner has become a DTLA icon and helped transform a neighborhood. Featuring handcrafted food, homemade jams and salsas, whimsical pastries, and the Maple Bacon Donut, the Nickel Diner has elevated the concept of “diner food”.
As two women running a restaurant on Skid Row, the challenges they’ve faced have allowed them to develop unique survival skills. It was important to understand this distinctive neighborhood and focus on inclusion as opposed to exclusion. In feeding a community that’s as diverse and eclectic as downtown Los Angeles, the Nickel's philosophy is this: whether you're high brow or low brow, a satiated belly speaks a universal truth.
Covid-19 forced many restaurants to reconfigure and pivot their business model. Much like the initial process in developing the Nickel, Monica and Kris looked at their neighborhood and saw what was needed. And so the Nickel Diner Soup Kitchen was born, subsidized with donations that allowed them to feed folks in need while keeping their employees and restaurant doors open. The pandemic has left the downtown community extremely vulnerable, and the women are committed in their determination that everyone gets fed.