SoCal Explorer Partner Spotlight: Knead & Co.

A transfer onto Metro from L.A. Union Station will lead you to Knead & Co. at Grand Central Market, a short walk from Pershing Square Station. The centennial restaurant is known for its seasonally Californian renditions of Northern Italian classics in an accessible DTLA location. With a commitment to high-quality, local ingredients and a mix of traditional, yet elevated Italian-American dishes– such as made-to-order panini and fresh pasta salads (as well as a smattering of breakfast items) — food lovers can watch the pasta getting made firsthand through the window that peeks right into the kitchen near the register.

Visitors can also purchase freshly made pastas, sauces, cheeses and butter (all made in-house) and legendary giardiniere — as well as an array of local and imported specialty goods, right onsite to take home from their adventure to the Grand Central Market. Metrolink connected with this local business’ onsite Executive Chef, Jesse Cross, for his thoughts on the eatery’s contributions to the local LA community.  

“I’ve been working at Knead & Co. in Grand Central Market for four years. I love interacting with people and being around others — which is why Grand Central Market is the place for me. I started out as the prep cook here at Knead & Co. and I’ve since worked my way up to the Executive Chef position.  

Our pastas are completely vegan – made the traditional way, with just semolina flour and water – there’s no egg. A lot of our sauces are made with California-grown tomatoes and California produce. We try to locally source as much as we can while also keeping the price point where people can afford to stop by for lunch. 

We make our pasta onsite both with a machine and by hand. We weigh out the portions, ensure that the dough is the right consistency, and then dry it. We use the ‘short dry’ technique so that we can get it into the freezer as quickly as we can and make it as fresh as possible later, when it hits your plate.  

We offer a rotating carousel of selection when it comes to our pastas, and it changes daily. We get to play with fresh wheat, carrots, squid ink, and more, to experiment for new types.” 

Cross says that Knead & Co. is a great local business with a number of regulars and residents from the apartments up above Grand Central Market who have become even more loyal during quarantine.  

“Some will come down daily for a visit, and some of them just moved to LA during quarantine,” Cross says. “It’s been nice to be able to comfort each other during this time that feels so crazy.

People who have not been to the market in decades will be nostalgic while they’re onsite – because we’ve been here for over 100 years. Being able to have the rich history that the market has and to serve people in that way feels powerful. Everybody is as close as they can be, here — I have more regulars now than I used to, actually. The opportunity to be out here taking orders and interacting with people at this time has changed my perspective on the importance of the whole small business community.  

We try to bring the community together with food. For example, back at the beginning of quarantine, we were able to offer a lot of our signature pantry staples as well such as flour, eggs, baguettes — as much as we could to help out.” 

Cross notes that public transportation has been a huge part of his life, particularly in Los Angeles. “I’ve had experience taking public transportation ever since I moved to LA, and even before that in NYC. Since these trains go downtown, which is where there’s the closest level of community in my experience, it’s exactly what you need to get around. I feel like I know more people working down here and have more interaction here than where I actually live — it’s a community.” 

When SoCal Explorer rewards members take the train to Grand Central Market and show their digital loyalty card at Knead & Co., they will receive 10% off food and products at the restaurant.  

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