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Soho House L.A. on track for fall '09 debut; Cecconi's opening next month on Melrose

January 12, 2009 | 10:59 pm

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I had a nice chat Friday with Mark Somen -- the U.S. director of operations for Soho House Group -- about the forthcoming members' club Soho House in L.A. and Soho House Group's plans to open a local outpost of its well-regarded London restaurant Cecconi's.

Somen said Soho House was still planning on opening its Los Angeles chapter on the top floor of Luckman Plaza (9200 Sunset Blvd., the future home of Boa Steakhouse as well), where Oscar-week parties were held last year.

"It's so exciting being in that building at that end of Sunset with such amazing views," said the British-born Somen from his office in New York.

The parties held at the temporary preview of Soho House Los Angeles last year were the talk of the town for weeks afterward. But don’t expect the same look (exposed ceilings/air ducts offset by warm furniture and rugs) for the space when it debuts in the fall.

"We're going to keep some raw elements of it," Somen said, but added that the ultra-exclusive members-only club "won’t be as raw as it was last year." No further details of Soho House L.A.’s design are available, as interior design elements are still being planned.

Meanwhile, Somen is readying a U.S. edition of Italian restaurant Cecconi's and will be in town soon to oversee the soft launch of the restaurant, set for next month.

(More details on Cecconi's after the jump)

A series of Oscar-related parties will take place at Cecconi’s and will dovetail nicely with the restaurant’s opening (in the former Morton's space, the site of many storied Vanity Fair Oscar parties). This could result in an avalanche of press if Cecconi's manages to lure A-list talent to its events as it did last year.

Andrea Cavaliere (who works for Soho House in NYC and was formerly at Cecconi's in London) has been tapped as the corporate chef of Cecconi's L.A., while Mirko Paderno (who was most recently a partner in All’Angelo and has also done time at Valentino and at a few Drago-group restaurants) will be the executive chef.

Somen says he hopes Cecconi's will be a place locals flock to not just for dinner but during the early-morning hours as well.

"We love the idea of having people come in at 7 in the morning and sit in a little café area with an espresso and croissant," Somen said.  "We're building a bit into the front driveway, so we'll have a nice outdoor terrace for around 50 people."

And though the restaurant is likely to be busy this spring, it’s the bar/lounge area many are anticipating.

"The bar is a very significant feature," Somen said. "But anybody can go [to the lounge area]; we want to be very approachable.... People should be able to show up in a pair of shorts and feel completely comfortable, or come in for a romantic 10-year anniversary dinner and feel comfortable."

While we applaud the idea of eating without pants in theory, we’re pretty sure it is never a good idea to dine out in Bermuda shorts. And don’t even think of showing up pants-less to Cecconi’s during Oscar week. Unless you’re Brad Pitt, who we assume is getting in no matter what (although we secretly would love to see him turned away for wearing shorts at the door).

-- Charlie Amter

Photo of the Los Angeles chapter of Soho House last year during its temporary incarnation atop Luckman Plaza by Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times

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