L’Oca Owner Arrested, Restaurant Closed

If you’re as much a fan of the gnochetti at Fairmount BYO L’Oca as I am, take note that you may never again have a chance to enjoy a plate. After his shift at the restaurant on Friday night, chef-owner Luca Garutti (pictured) was arrested on the 1100 block of North Broad Street following a car accident.

The genial 45-year old was charged with DUI, and it’s not his first such arrest, according to court records. According to those same records, he’s currently sitting in a cell in the lovely Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility awaiting $2,500 bail. (Kickstarter, anyone? Only half kidding).

L’Oca employees managed to get through the Saturday shift without Garutti but did not open Sunday, and they’re also closed today. With the great summer slowdown upon us and rumors that L’Oca was already experiencing more than its fair share of money troubles, it doesn’t look good. Plus, one well-placed source says that the restaurant’s lease is up in September.

Hmm. L’Oca’s address is 2025 Fairmount Avenue. And former Rouge chef Matt Zagorski is reportedly attached to some project called 2025. Could it be?

Good luck, Luca. I, for one, hope you land on your feet.

  • Erica

    Geez, Illuminaire and L’Oca in the same week. Not a good one for Fairmount Ave.

  • 3rd&Brown

    Too bad. It was a nice place, probably the first on Fairmount Avenue that was at the level that the surrounding neighborhood deserves. I hope nobody was hurt and I hope he lands on his feet. Everyone makes mistakes.

  • erik

    seriously? fuck this dude . not his first DUI. could’ve killed others more than once. oh yeah, I feel terrible that he’s in jail. terrible.

  • Karenleepa

    Such sad news. Wish you all the best Luca. Well put Victor, I do hope he lands on his feet.

  • Jennifer

    I agree with Erik. Driving under the influence is tantamount to playing with a loaded gun. Sympathy because he makes good gnocchi? Not a chance.

  • 3rd&Brown

    You people need to get a grip. Who said anything about sympathy? All people said was that we hope he lands on his feet…someday. Nobody said he shouldn’t pay his debts to society. But once he does, everyone deserves a second chance. That’s why we have a legal system, you amateur moral police. It’s logic like this that almost ensures once you’re convicted of a crime, you are never able to be as productive in the workforce as you once were. Then you remain a burden to all of us forever. That’s productive. Jerkoffs.

  • Bartholomew B. Bartholomew

    Does anyone know a professional moral policeman who can comment on this please!

  • erik

    hey 3rd and brown. if this is not his FIRST dui. then he’s already had his SECOND chance. that’s how it works. 1, 2, 3.

    i’m allowed to think he’s a douche. and say it. and i’m not a “moral policeman”. what the fuck is that, anyway.

    blow me.

    • TJ

      Well said Erik
      I could talk for hours about this guy’s constant history of being a total drunk sociopath !!!
      Hope he gets the book & then some thrown at his irresponsible ass

  • Snake

    This guy got caught twice, most people have driven above the legal limit dozens of times.

  • TJ

    Well for anyone who knows this D.B on a personal level knows that he brought all this on himself & no it’s not his first, nor second nor third run in with the law…..
    Not only does have a string of arrests (not all DUI related he is also a raging alcoholic, a dead beat dad who does not pay child support, a irresponsible citizen who fails to contribute to society by owing the IRS ten’s of thousand’s, burnt his business partners beyond belief, screwed all his honest vendors who are trying to make a living by never paying his vendor bills, but screwing peoe out of money on a personal level too,..
    The self involved, drunk sociopath is finally where he should be ( behind bars) here’s hoping the judge does our community a favor & keeps him there. Good riddance to bad rubbish !

  • rory

    really, that’s the picture you have/use? weird choice.

    sad to hear l’oca might go. that goose ragu and those gnochetti were delicious.

  • el Z

    This guy is a total jag off. Raging temper and a drunken moron. People in the biz know to avoid him, now u do too…

  • Joking

    Seems like he’s related to the Farmer’s Cabinet owners

  • Clank

    The food was pretty good but I won’t miss the place. We were always met with rude service (by the manager?) upon entering as if we were invisible, even when there were plenty of open tables. Each time we hoped it would be better, but it wasn’t. So we stopped going.

    Let’s hope for some good restaurants in Fairmount with friendly service.

  • Pete

    I also had arrogant service from Luca.

  • jtasker

    Let me first start off by saying that I totally disagree and do not condone lucas actions in any way shape or form. He clearly has a major problem and needs to address his issue and get some help. He could have killed himself and even worse someone else. HOWEVER, I know him on a personal level and know that deep down inside that he is and wants to be a truly good guy. He is the real thing a true italian cooking good simlpe food. We are all human and make mistakes in life and should not be judged by our short falls. I also find it distasteful that foobooz hardly ever gave him press on his food but jumped to write a piece on pure negativity. I guarantee luca will be out of jail and back on his feet and open by this week. Good luck friend

  • dilley

    I agree with the above statement. Everytime I’ve been to loca it was good. We all need to have some humility and put ourselves in that chefs shoes for just a minute! I’m sure that restaurant is his livelihood and there is no need to be blasting him like this on the internet!

  • Larissa

    I too find it totally distasteful that foobooz plays up this story in this way, but even more so to read comments displaying such hatred and intolerance so publicly. Sociopath? Puh-lease. There are multiple sides to every story, and most of us don’t give a hoot whether the slanderous accusations hold any truth. I, for one, hope L’Oca’s closing is only temporary! He’s one of the best chefs around, and one of the only ones in this city who is offering up consistently fabulous and authentic Italian food.

  • tammi

    …when did this web-site become about bashing people and gossiping about there personal lives??? remind me if im wrong its supposed to be about the food and restaurant industry….all the article had to say is “l’oca closed until further notice due to an unfortunate car accident” instead its all about an arrest,DUI and someones personal behavior (which in my opinion is irrelivent to this web-site). the restaurant industry is hard enough as it is, lets leave this guy alone and let him move on!!! oh BTW they could have used the offical photo of him on his webpage insted they found the wost pic they could find to make him look even worse. no fair guys! think about it

  • notJoking

    I agree with the above comments. Learn some class Foobooz.

  • Friend of Luca

    First of all, I have reason to believe that L’Oca is not closing. Secondly, I think the real scumbags here are the haters who “leaked” this “story” to this website and feel the need to exaggerate and spread lies for no reason except that you think that you’ll end up with greater financial gain by doing so. You should take a look at yourselves. Luca is a good person. He has a heart of gold and would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need. He has a true passion for cooking and for the restaurant. Luca is a much better person than you for caring about things more important than money. I have no doubt that all of your jealousy, hatred, and self-importance will eat you alive and take away things in your life that are more important than money. But you are so consumed with that thought that you won’t even realize it until it happens. You are the true losers here.

  • Friend of Luca

    I just read TJ’s comment (hadn’t read it before I responded) – I can’t believe that you would post such complete bold-faced lies like that. First of all, Luca does not have any other arrests besides his two DUIs (not that I’m condoning his behavior, but I think that using it as an excuse to try to take over the restaurant is really low to say the least), he is not a deadbeat dad and does not owe any child support, he does not owe the IRS any money, and lives quite frugally. Just because you missed what you saw was your chance to make some big money, now you keep taking it out on Luca. Most people need to work hard for what they have in life. I’m sorry you’ve never realized that.

  • L’Oca patron and friend

    It’s a disgrace that so many people have become more consumed with focusing on other individual’s shortcomings instead of their own. I am completely flabbergasted that people have had the audacity to criticize L’Oca restaurant when it is well known in the community for its excellent Italian cuisine and customer satisfaction. L’Oca is one of the only decent restaurants in the neighborhood and the Fairmount area needs good restaurants. People are attempting to smear the owner’s name so that the restaurant will shut down for their own personal gain. This conduct will do nothing but be a disservice to the surrounding neighborhood and community. I am not condoning Luca’s behavior, but his personal life should be kept separate from his business practices.

  • L’Oca – never been there, don’t know Luca

    Wow, the friends of Luca are coming out of the woodwork. As it should be – if a man’s friends won’t vouch for him, who will?

    However, a drunk in real life means a drunk in working life – that is, if the man can’t have his personal life in order, how can he be expected to run a restaurant? Show some discipline, chef!!

  • Dr. Wazgoose

    Great restaurant. I hope everything works out Chef.

  • Tgio

    Is there an update? We hope the restaurant reopens and are motivated to make that happen and help Luca. Anyone in the know please let us know what we can do.

  • Fairmount Foodie

    I’m willing to help too. L’Oca is one of my favorite restaurants! Just let me know what I can do.

  • Victor Fiorillo

    According to the Court of Common Pleas, Luca posted bail yesterday. The restaurant is still closed.

  • Friend of Luca

    I heard through the grapevine that Luca plans to reopen the restaurant on Sunday. :-) Yay! I’m sure he appreciates all of your support! I’ll let you know if I hear about L’Oca opening any earlier than that.

  • L

    Loca is fabulous, I hope that everything works out for Luca and that he is ok. An online site for food critics and foodies is no place make assumptions and comments on a person’s personal life and struggles and all of you who did so should be completely ashamed of yourselves.

  • miles

    that will suck if loca closes!!! its the best place on the strip… lets see if foobooz will write a piece on his re-opening rebound. prove’m wrong loca!!

  • Italian bill

    Luca is a friendly guy and a great chef. My only complaint is that northern Italian food isn’t very vegetarian friendly! I feel sorry for those posting here with such negative energy. You must really live a lowly, miserable life to kick a guy when he’s facing a rough patch. If we want to help, we need to get the word out about loca and get the tables turning. Tell your friends, coworkers, etc.!!!

  • Tgio

    We will be there the evening it re-opens.

  • http://lisetta.wordpress.com/ Lisetta

    How disappointing! L’Oca, in my view, is one of the best Italian food places in the city, with Luca standing out in the crowd as one of the city’s most artistic and dedicated chefs. He insists on using top quality ingredients, insists on following traditional techniques, and refuses to sell out to the red gravy marketplace simply to turn a buck. To everyone who really knows what Italian food *should* taste like, Luca is a godsend.

    It’s true that L’Oca hasn’t quite acculturated to the norms of American service. So what? People who go there for the food recognize the struggles restauranteurs have with training and managing the front staff. I volunteered as a hostess there two summers ago, when Luca, Joey and Fabrizio were frequently turning out fabulous dinners to 100+ satisfied customers a night on weekends. In my months there, I had only two dissatisfied customers. People LOVED the food, loved the atmosphere, and loved sharing their stories of travel in Italy. Watch the movie Big Night and you will understand what Luca is trying to do here. He’s the brother who won’t sell out, who will yell at you if you try and order a side of spaghetti with risotto, and who will talk to you with passion about his house-cured pancetta.

    While I too take issue with Victor’s sensationalist storytelling and the hateful defamation of character in some of the comments, I am encouraged by the outpouring of support from those with insight into the stories left untold. :) We miss you, Luca! Hope you come back soon.

  • Roger

    I will also be there! Why doesn’t foobooz contact the owner about what his plans are? I like Miles’ idea that foobooz should write an article about L’Oca’s reopening and put something positive out there since it is such a great place!

  • Friend of Luca

    I have the owner’s email address. Victor, let me know if you want it and the best way to get it to you. Do you want me to email it to the Tip Jar?

  • kate mcgregor

    I live in the area and I say: let Rouge stay on Rittenhouse! L’oca is perfect just the way it is! Ive been going there for about 3 years now and would hate to see it go! get back open and knock’em dead chef luca!!

  • Nadia

    Luca planning to reopen Sunday

    Keeping our fingers crossed saw Luca last night and although he has a broken clavicle, he is planning on reopening Sunday night. We can only hope as it would be such a loss to the neighborhood if this were to push L’Oca out.

  • JM

    Thanks for the news, Nadia. Maybe L’Oca can move over to Illuminare’s space? While not as nice, it would keep him in the neighborhood and get him away from an unreasonable situation. I don’t want to see him leave Fairmount either….Rouge is overpriced and overrated, sanitized for the yuppies seeking a scene. I want a real restaurant with real character here….keep your ‘concept’ places in Center City!

  • Friend

    I watched Luca pour his life into the creation of this restaurant. What is the sense of debating issues of his personal life, which should have no relevance to someone looking for a fantastic Italian meal? I am saddened that Luca has found himself in a difficult situation, but wish him nothing but the best as he gets back to work doing what he loves, for the people who have come to love L’Oca.

  • greg andrews

    hey guys, we should all pop our heads in and wish luca well on sunday!!! lol
    -gregA

  • Friend of Luca

    That’s a good idea, JM! I don’t know all the details on how easy that would be to do or if it’s possible, but it sounds like a good suggestion to me. There are people who “leaked” and commented on this story who were hoping and banking that Luca would remain in jail (even though most people are released within a day or two) for their own potential financial gain. Luca has no family here to help him and did not have phone numbers with him. I’m not religious, but that just seems downright evil to me.

    Lisetta, I read your comments last night, and wow, you said it better than I ever could’ve! Your words are so eloquent and exactly on-point! You should write an article and try to contribute it somewhere. You’re very well-spoken, and you really capture the essence and concept of L’Oca.

  • Friend of Luca

    That’s a good idea, Greg!

  • Amico di Luca

    I have also watched Luca work his ass off for years to get his restaurant open, while also trying to spend time with his kids through a difficult family situation. 3 DUIs is rough, and is probably going to cost him. But I for one hope it doesn’t deprive anyone of his creations at L’oca!

  • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/author/vfiorillo/ Victor Fiorillo

    @Friend of Luca… No one “leaked” this story. A popular neighborhood restaurant (and one that I love, by the way) is closed two days straight when they were supposed to be open. No vacation notice. No sign on the door. No website update. The owner is arrested. Some of the neighbors hear about the arrest, and word starts trickling around. The arrest is a matter of public record, and the owner was in jail longer than just overnight. There was a collision involved. There really wasn’t a “leak” required.

  • NE food boy

    One, foobooz, where did you get his pic? it looks like someone knocked on his apartment door, snapped a shot and ran.

    Two, why are people mentioning Rouge? There was never any mention of the OWNERS of Rouge linked to taking over the space, the article mentioned former Rouge CHEF Matt Zagorski.

  • L’oca Fan

    I wish Luca the best of luck and I’m hoping for a L’oca recovery. As a resident of the neighborhood, this is one of my go-to places for a nice dinner. It is unfortnate what happen I hope that Luca has learned his lesson but this does not take away for my love of his authentic Italian food. It’s a wonderful spot in the hood and I hope it continues to stay.

  • Friend of Luca

    Victor, I stand corrected on the point about someone leaking the story, thank you.

  • Paul

    Ha ha ha , “Friend of Luca” if he is a friend of yours take ya head out of the sand & open your eyes to what everyone in our industry see’s

    He has indeed several other arrests, ask your FRIEND about leaving the scene of yet another accident two years ago in a supermarket parking lot after he caused significant damage to someone else’s car drunk of course & never paid that either.
    Ask your friend about the other DUI’s that he has called other co-workers to bail him out of.

    Ask your friend why he never gets to see his kids…..

    Ask your FRIEND why he does not have even one credit card, (he has the worst credit on the planet)…

    Ask your friend to see his IRS bill that he currently owes over $12,000 on

    Then ask you FREND why so many of us chef’s never want to work with his crazy drunk ass – Get a clue…..

    Then ask his landlord about the fact that he has not paid his rent in months & months.

    Ask ya friend why so many vendors refuse to deal with him.

    Ask anyone in our business who has worked with this drunk & they’ll give you some insight to the real Luca not the guy who gives everyone the sob stories & constant spew of BS to get them to do what ever he wants or lend him money he owed a chef I know thousands that I know he’ll never see

    Looks like you as his FRIEND have been sucked into his usual bullshit too…
    Good luck with that & all I can say is just wait & see……

    Maybe all you others on here who think this “good guy” will see the real Luca soon enough, but he’ll probably do what he did in Boston & just skipped as soon as he burnt all his bridges, owed so many people money & NO-ONE would hire him….

    I say good work FOO BOOZ for some insight to the REAL Luca that all us Chef’s know

  • t.pina

    well, loca is open today!!!:)
    from reading the above i realized that jack…oh, i mean “paul” still has a personal axe to grind with luca.plain and simple!…. what lies and rumors! luca is doing just fine and is getting his life back together and cooking again. shame on you
    so, get a life jack! i mean “paul”
    .tanya l. pina

  • Friend of Luca

    Yeah, Jack. Enough is enough. When will you get a life and stop trying to start rumors and spread lies? Like someone else said on here, I feel sorry that you are so miserable.

  • ALL THE NEWS

    L’OCA. IS NOW BACK OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK. 5-10PM. PLEASE COME SUPPORT!!!

  • We love Luca!

    Jack (Paul), get a life! Chef Luca is a spectacular and talented chef and should be recognized for just that! You’re a jerk for trying to throw him under the bus!

  • Jeff

    I am very happy to see l’Oca open again. While I do not know Luca very well, I do consider him a friend and wish him all the best. We have been to l’Oca about 100-150 times over the years and he has always treated us very well. He takes particular interest in our two boys and always makes them a special pasta that they love. I also know Jack (I have no reason to believe he is “Paul” on this message board), and consider him a friend as well. I do not think it does anybody any good to disparage another (either Luca or the responders) in this essentially anonymous forum. If you do not like Luca or feel that visiting his restaurant will somehow condone his apparent poor choices, then don’t go. No need to air grievances here. I know Luca has had his fair share of misfortune (perhaps most, if not all, self-inflicted), but I sincerely hope that he is able to turn things around. There is no doubt he is a talented chef and I feel his restaurant is an asset to the neighborhood.

  • Jeff

    By the way, the photo is from Luca’s own Facebook page, so we can at least stop criticizing this website on that point.

  • Laura

    It’s nice to see that Luca has so many friends here, but it sounds like the guy needs more support than some internet commenters cheering for his restaurant to reopen can provide. Sounds like he could use some tough love. If you know him personally, I hope you’re leaning on him to get real help. Because as much as we all want to see him succeed, if he is an alcoholic I’m not sure that sending him (in his current state) back to a job where he’s surrounded by wine is going to help him in the long run.

  • jon

    Had the worst experience there. They were out of the appetizers and main courses we wanted. Then my girlfriend only finished 1/3 of her dinner and they accidently threw it out when we requested it to be packed up. They did give us a free $5 dessert even if the entree was 4x that. Emailed the manager and never heard back.

  • PATRIZIA

    So glad L’Oca is open again!!!
    Where would Italian-Italian go otherwise, when they want to eat real Italian-Italian food? ;-)
    In bocca al lupo, Luca!!!

  • Verbal

    So, are they still open, or did they close up again? Have been trying to make reservations and no calls back.

  • TJ

    Honestly
    you people are amazing……
    I’ve read this a few times out of curosity & left one comment earleir that I know IS indeed 100% true this guy was in my life for a long time…

    Let me set the record straight, Jack did not leave any comments on here b/c he could not give two shits about Luca, I on the other hand am still pissed about what he has put so many people through & how many people he has screwed over both on a professional & personal level….

    You are all compaining about poor poor Luca & paying out on Jack when Jack has not said one word on this message board & even told me not to say anything on it, but I say like everyone else I’m allowed to say what I think of that place & the guy who screwed me over.

    Friends of Luca if you worked in the industry you would know how many bridges he has burnt so there is at least several hundred people who are going to “tell the truth” about Luca….

    There is two sides to every story and anyone in mind mind who supports an alcholic & pats him on the back after DUI’s where he could have killed not only himself but others and screweing people over for money time after time after time is just as bad…

    Jack does NOT give a shit about Luca and is NOT Paul !!!

    Hope you all ae just as supportive & go visit him when his drunk ass is in jail.

    • http://www.facebook.com/evan.douglass.92 Evan Douglass

      I worked for Luca. He owes me money that I’ll never see. He’s unprofessional and I’m being very nice.

  • Fred

    He a Dealo stole money from me and lots of other people. They both suck – and the food wasn’t worth the money anyway. Fuck Dealo and the Inquirere too

  • lilpit

    “He a Dealo stole money from me and lots of other people.”

    What language is that?

  • Snake

    I took it to mean that l’Oca was on that Philly.com Dealio thing or whatever their version of Groupon is called and now they can’t use the coupon?

    Who knows, I’ve done some work as a Franch and Spanish translator and you end up making some guesses here and there.

  • mons

    dealyo coupons expired aug 13th they were extended to cover the time restaurant was closed. the problem is that dealyo coupons have a far shorter time for use than others and many people did not realize this.