[This post has been updated. See note below.]
Evan Kleiman, the host of KCRW's "Good Food" and the owner of Angeli Caffe, says she will close her 27-year-old Melrose Avenue restaurant next week.
"I was open for years when I probably should have closed," Kleiman said over the phone just after she'd told her staff about the closure. "It was my personal mission to get my employees past the worst of the recession, and I absorbed a lot of losses personally in order to do that and just can’t do it anymore."
PHOTOS: Evan Kleiman of Angeli Caffe
Some of Kleiman's employees have been working with her since Angeli opened in 1984, when it was 24 seats in a former screen shop, a restaurant inspired by food she'd eaten in the trattorias of Italy and remarkable as well for its modern, angular architecture.
Ruth Reichl wrote in The Times that it was among the restaurants bringing "a whole new character" to the restaurant scene, with its authenticity "filtered through such sophisticated sensibilities."
At one point Kleiman had four restaurants: Besides Angeli Caffe, there was Trattoria Angeli in West Los Angeles, which opened in 1987 and closed in 1994; Angeli Mare in Marina del Rey, which opened in 1989 and closed in 1995; and the short-lived Angeli in the Rodeo Collection in Beverly Hills, which opened and closed in 1993.
Angeli's last day will be Sunday, Jan. 8, and it will be open every day until then (including New Year's Day and Mondays, when it's usually closed). [UPDATED: Kleiman announced Tuesday that the restaurant will stay open until Jan. 13 to accommodate the demand for last dinners.]
"We really want everybody to come by and say hi and need people to come so that I can pay my last bills," Kleiman said.
Kleiman, who said she is especially devastated on behalf of her staff, had been trying to sell the restaurant as a brand for a couple of years, but nobody came forward. "And you know, it’s a different thing buying the space and buying the brand. It has to be a pretty special person."
Kleiman said she will continue to cater, with more information soon at her website, www.evankleiman.com. "I’m gonna explore food products and try going down that road. It’s such a massive change that I don’t really know what it’s going to feel like. I'll also be speaking, teaching, helping, all the other things that will be open to me in terms of having the time that I normally wouldn’t have."
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-- Betty Hallock
Photos: Evan Kleiman with Angeli chef Kathy Ternay, top, and Angeli's storefront on Melrose Avenue. Credit: Bret Harman