Poppy + Rose Is Still Blooming After 10 Years in Downtown Los Angeles

The popular breakfast-and-lunch spot is about to celebrate a big milestone.


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“We share a wedding anniversary with the restaurant,” says Kwini Reed, who co-owns Poppy + Rose with her husband, chef Michael Reed. “The restaurant opened on July 1, 2014, and we got married on the same day in 2017.”

“Our birthdays are both in July, too, so we just keep everything in the same month,” Kwini, who handles the business side of the restaurant, says with a laugh.

The Reeds are about to come up on a big milestone: The longstanding Downtown Los Angeles restaurant, known for its down-home, Southern-inspired comfort food and bright, sunny interior, is gearing up to celebrate its tenth anniversary this summer.


When Poppy + Rose opened inside the iconic Original Los Angeles Flower Market in 2014, Michael and his then-business partner at Root of All Food (a catering company which Michael and Kwini still operate), put the main focus on breakfast and brunch. The Flower Market opens up to floral professionals at 4 a.m. on the weekdays, and, as Kwini explains it, back then they didn’t have anywhere convenient to grab a breakfast burrito or a sandwich on their way in or out. (Kwini came on as a full-time owner of Poppy + Rose after the couple married in 2017.)

Given its location, Michael and his partners named it Poppy + Rose: The poppy is California’s state flower, and the rose is Georgia’s state flower, so it’s a nod to the restaurant’s focus and Michael’s southern roots. 

The restaurant quickly became known for its super fluffy pancakes and, especially, its shatteringly crisp fried chicken and waffles, which remains a top seller. Michael attributes the dish’s staying power to the care put into it before it’s even made.

“It’s really how you brine it,” he says. “We brine in a mixture of buttermilk and salts and sugars and other spices for at least 24 hours, so you build up the flavor. We have a signature blend of spices in the dredge, too, so it gets super crispy.”


The waffle, he says, is special, too: “We came up with a brown-butter batter, so you get that nuttiness. It really changes it from your standard waffle.”

Although the chicken and waffles are the same, many other things have changed over the years. For one, the menu has expanded to include dishes like shrimp and grits (another crowd pleaser) and a “Kitchen Sink” rice and quinoa bowl loaded with sweet potato, kale, green onion, herbs, pickled carrot, chili, bacon, and BBQ pulled pork.

“I think our secret is that everything is made from scratch. Nothing is pre-made,” Kwini says. “There are some things that only a human touch can give.”

With post-pandemic closures in 2020, the restaurant opened a sunny rooftop patio (now known for boozy weekend brunches featuring fried chicken Bloody Marys) and moved from an order-at-the-counter model to full table service.

“We started out as very casual, but we found that during the pandemic, our customers really wanted that human connection,” Michael says.

Kwini and Michael both attribute the restaurant’s staying power to its broad appeal and the mix of customers that come through.


“We don’t really have a target customer: Kids love it, people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s love it. Men and women love Poppy + Rose,” Kwini says. “It’s been like that since day one.”

For the tenth anniversary in July, the Reeds are planning a party, and are working on a second location in West Harbor, which they hope will open by the end of the year. In addition, Michael will be featured on TLC’s cooking game show “Tournament of Champions,” and the couple has other TV appearances planned in the coming months.

Through it all, Kwini and Michael appreciate the working relationship that they have and how they’re able to bring their strengths to their respective roles.

“We really stay in different lanes,” Michael says. “She handles the books at home and at the restaurant. I cook and create.”

Kwini adds: “It’s actually a joy to work together. Considering the fact chefs work a lot, if I had a different job, we’d barely get to see each other. We share a love of food and hospitality — and we understand when we’re going through it, because we’re going through it together.”

She adds with a laugh, “Plus, date night is a write-off. Everything is R&D.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Stan Lee