When husband and wife business partners Leor and Laura Klein started Klein Kitchen, a full-service, bespoke private chef matchmaking service, in 2020, they didn’t realize it was opening the door to their next food venture. Through a private dinner they catered, the couple ended up meeting UTA’s CEO Jeremy Zimmer, which led to the creation of Leora, a café at UTA’s Beverly Hills headquarters serving up free daily lunches to the agency’s employees.
The café and marketplace, which Laura Klein describes as “California fresh with a Mediterranean twist,” opened in fall 2022, offers a daily rotating menu of items like Greek salad with chicken, falafel wraps, Italian sandwiches and more.
“It was really important for us to have as much variety as possible because, obviously, if you eat at the same place every day, it gets tired and old,” Laura Klein says. “So we have three daily specials every day for the employees to pick from, and the menus change every single day.” The Klein Kitchen co-founder, who assisted and produced for Spike Jonze before pivoting to the food industry, used her understanding of Hollywood’s pace and priorities — especially where service is concerned — to help craft the ethos of Leora. “It’s been really important for me to share those values with our team that doesn’t know the Hollywood world because it really is a world unlike any other,” she says.
The kitchen is made up of a team of 15 employees, who begin prepping the roughly 600 fresh meals served each day at 6 a.m. Four baristas-slash-servers working the front of the house round out the team, along with the café’s general manager.
“We are aware of who we are serving, here in Beverly Hills and especially at UTA, and we know that our clients want organic food. Fresh, delicious, healthy, nutritious … we are serving [UTA employees] in the middle of their workday, so we want to give them kind of a ‘power lunch,’” Leor Klein says.
The menu is full of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan options, in an effort to serve light, California-market-based dishes. And sustainability is a focus too. When ingredients go unused, they are incorporated into a new dish on the menu the next day. “When you are cooking for so many people, it’s very easy to waste food,” Leor Klein notes. “That was the first thing that we spoke about when we opened the door, is that we have to be sustainable, and we want to be a kitchen that thrives on zero waste.”
Adds Laura Klein: “[We have this] built-in clientele … a lot of places don’t get to conduct research as they go. We get to see firsthand what people are liking, and we can recraft our menus based on what people are really gravitating toward and the feedback that we get.”
According to Zimmer, the idea to provide free lunches began as an incentive to encourage employees to work from the office again following peak pandemic lockdowns. At first, these meals were being catered by outside vendors, but after a while, opening a permanent brick-and-mortar at the plaza seemed wise.
“Leora has really become a great piece of the culture of UTA. It’s a lively meeting place for colleagues and some of the neighboring companies,” Zimmer says. “The Kleins are creative, forward-thinking and love what they do. That’s also the ethos of UTA, so it’s no surprise that Leora fits into our wheelhouse.”
Leora is also open to the public and provides a 20 percent discount to all city workers and select Beverly Hills businesses in the surrounding community. Daily guests range from top executives to assistants, and people outside of the company, too, making the café a buzzing site for connection, coffee and business lunch meetings.
“Lunch meetings have been a part of entertainment industry culture for as long as I can remember. We still do plenty off-site, but I really enjoy hosting clients and executives at Leora,” Zimmer says.
Adds Laura Klein: “I think it’s definitely become a space that people will have their meetings, instead of sitting in a conference room. That was really important for us, making the space welcoming and vibey and a nice place to be.”