Audrey Saunders exits Tar Pit; Marcos Tello now heads the bar, or not [Updated]
Audrey Saunders is saying so long to the Tar Pit. The owner of New York's Pegu Club swept in to L.A. to open the La Brea Avenue cocktail lounge with chef Mark Peel and general manager Jay Perrin, but she will no longer be a partner, Peel says. Peel announced that bartender Marcos Tello will now head the bar.*
"She did all the training and designing for the original menu, and I think she did a great job," Peel says. "We just came to a parting of the ways." Saunders did not immediately return calls for comment.
The highly anticipated Tar Pit opened in December, and Saunders' drinks -- which she described as "neo-tropical" (such as the Night Marcher, served in a tiki mug with a ball gag in its mouth) or "Old Hollywood swellegant" -- captured the attention of cocktail-philes. Consultants Chad Solomon (pictured with Saunders above) and Christy Pope also helped develop the drinks menu.
Peel said the bar menu would remain the same for the time being, "but like any menu, things evolve." He envisions a drinks menu that is "a little more farmers market-oriented. Right now, there’s incredible citrus out there, blood oranges, Meyer lemons, kumquats, Cara Cara pink oranges. I’d like to work with our staff to develop those."*Updated, 2/17, 3:45 p.m.: It is now unclear whether Marcos Tello will be helming the bar at the Tar Pit. After the initial post, Tello called to say he would not. Contacted again, Peel clarified that Tello would succeed Saunders, but on an interim basis. Stay tuned.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: Saunder with Solomon at the Tar Pit; credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times.