New Documentary Explores An LA Restaurant's Pandemic Struggle

Though the past couple of years have been difficult for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that it has been a particularly difficult time for restaurants. From the owners and waitstaff to the chefs and suppliers, the ripple effect that has occurred due to the restaurant industry's disruption has quickly been felt by many other industries, too.

While some were able to adapt and successfully shift to survive the many difficulties and phases of the pandemic, just as many were not so lucky. According to the Los Angeles Times, around 90,000 restaurants have temporarily or permanently closed during the health crisis. But one LA restaurant, Belle Vie, documented the devastation and its namesake film is set to premiere on March 9 at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Though the restaurant did not meet a happy end throughout its pandemic difficulties like so many others, the restaurant's former owner, Vincent Samarco, isn't giving up on the industry.

Samarco fought hard for his bistro

Though Belle Vie opened in West Los Angeles in 2016 and quickly became a cultural hub for locals in addition to its reputation as a refined French bistro, the documentary begins with the early days of the pandemic (via Fine Dining Lovers). The film follows the restaurateur and his restaurant through the twists and turns of the pandemic, including the forming and changing of rules and regulations around COVID procedures such as indoor and outdoor dining and mask use. Belle Vie faced bankruptcy and, of course, Samarco also suffered individual loss, too.

Despite his good spirit and high hopes at the start of the pandemic, he was unable to save the restaurant. Fortunately, Samarco is planning to open another restaurant in La, but don't expect it to be an iteration of Belle Vie. Both the restaurant industry and Samarco are moving on. Fans of the restaurant and the upcoming film can look out for developments from Samarco. But until then, you can watch the documentary trailer on Vimeo.