Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Restaurant Closing

Small Bites: Mako on Beverly Drive closes this weekend. Half-price wine at Savory in Malibu.

Robataya

Mako moves on: After 11 years, Mako’s lease is up at its Beverly Drive location and chef Mako Tanaka is planning to relocate to Santa Monica. (Mako's last night of service is Saturday.) While that's in process, beginning next month, Mako and his partner Lisa Brady will be found at Robata-Ya, his other restaurant in West L.A. Here he will be putting together a menu that consists of Mako originals and some new Asian specialties. Mako catering will also be available from the Robata-Ya kitchen.

Mako, 225 S. Beverly Drive, Los Angeles, (310) 481-1418, www.makorestaurant.com; Robata-Ya,      2004 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 288-8338, www.robatayala.com

Wine deal: As of this week, chef Paul Shoemaker's Savory Restaurant in Malibu is turning every Tuesday night into Wine Lovers Night. All bottles will be sold for half price from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

29169 Heathercliff Road, Malibu; (310) 589-8997; www.savorymalibu.com.

-- Emma Wartzman

Photo: Robata-Ya. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu/Los Angeles Times

 

Closings: Beacon in Culver City, Ortolan on 3rd Street

BeaconIt's been a big (sad) week in restaurant closings as Beacon announced it would shut its doors for good Sunday and Eater LA reports that Ortolan has shuttered, at least for now. 

Asian cafe Beacon, owned and operated by chef Kazuto Matsusaka and his wife, Vicki Fan Matsusaka, opened in 2004 in the Helms Bakery District and was considered a pioneer in the restaurant rush to Culver City. The Matsusakas say they will continue to offer catering services, featuring some of Beacon's signature fusion dishes, such as five-spiced chicken salad, kakuni udon and grilled hanger steak with wasabi relish. 

Meanwhile, Ortolan -- Christophe Eme's high-end French restaurant on 3rd Street that has long struggled to click with diners, especially as the economy turned south -- has apparently closed. The restaurant's voicemail message says: "We are currently closed until further notice. We are not accepting any reservations at this time. We do apologize and look forward to serving you in the future." Eme could not be reached for comment. 

Beacon, 3280 Helms Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 838-7500; www.beacon-la.com. For catering inquiries, e-mail vicki@beacon-la.com. Ortolan, 8338 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 653-3300; www.ortolanrestaurant.com.  

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Beacon in Culver City. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Hollywood restaurant leaves her out in the cold on New Year's Eve

Champagne600 
A couple weeks ago I thought I knew what I’d be doing to ring in the new year with friends, but hours before the big ball was set to drop Friday night I realized there was a distinct possibility that we’d be out in the cold, doing absolutely nothing.

New Year's Eve can either be a crowded nightmare of sorts or an absolute delight. It’s hard to get a reservation and places tend to be packed so I was thrilled to learn that my friend Adriana Dermenjian had secured dinner reservations at Citizen Smith, a restaurant and bar in Hollywood. Friday happens to be her 25th birthday -- Happy Birthday, Adriana! -- so the plan was to go big. We would have a relaxing dinner then dance the night away with a DJ spinning beats until we were deliriously happy.

The anticipation was growing as the big night grew nearer and I could tell my friend was especially excited about the birthday festivities. On Thursday, though, another friend of mine sent me a message asking me if Citizen Smith had closed down. I went online to investigate, and found a post on Eater LA that said the restaurant was suddenly closing: “The restaurant was abruptly shuttered by the court receiver put in place to settle the divorce of current operators Brett and Karina Sulzer.”

Wait a second. This had to be a mistake. After reading the article I called the restaurant repeatedly but got no answer. On my fifth call I tried to leave a message but after the beep was informed that their mailbox was full.

Sure, it seems like every other day a Los Angeles eatery shuts its doors but it’s a problem when you’re expected to have a party there the following evening for 16 people; especially when it happens to be New Year’s Eve!

With no announcement about the closing on the restaurant’s website and no phone calls to guests (Adriana gave them a contact number when she made her reservation) I won’t be surprised if people show up on New Year’s Eve, only to find a vacant space. In fact, the property has already been listed for lease on the real estate site LoopNet.

If you’re going to close down, so be it. At least have the decency to let your patrons know.

Luckily, we still have plans to ring in the new year in style at Vintage Enoteca, a wine bar in Hollywood that, bless their hearts, took a last-minute dinner reservation for a rowdy birthday party of 16.

--Jenn Harris

Twitter / Jenn_Harris_

[Updated: An earlier version of this post misspelled Adriana's name on third reference. No, it's not a case of an editor drinking too much champagne -- it was a typo. Sorry Adriana!]

RELATED: Other places to party on New Year's Eve

Photo: Francois Nascimbeni / AFP/Getty Images

Small Bites: Bistro LQ's Laurent Quenioux is now exec chef at Vertical Wine Bistro. Broadway Deli in Santa Monica shutters.

Laurent

Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena announced that chef Laurent Quenioux, who has his own restaurant -- Bistro LQ -- over on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood, will be its executive chef. Quenioux, the former chef of Pasadena's Bistro K, is splitting his time between Bistro LQ and Vertical Wine Bistro. "My roots remain in Pasadena," he said in a release. The new menu at Vertical features both small plates and larger dishes to pair with an extensive wine list. Some examples: Comte grilled cheese with zucchini flowers and tortilla soup; corn fritter with smoked salmon and crème fraîche; mussels with chorizo, saffron and coriander; and roast chicken with braised cabbage, chestnut purée and huckleberries.

70 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 795-3999, www.verticalwinebistro.com. 

In more restaurant news, the 20-year-old Broadway Deli closed for good on Monday, reports the Santa Monica Daily Press. The restaurant's long-term lease expired this summer, and landlord Promenade Gateway is making way for a new tenant. "It's sad. It's the end of an institution, the end of an era," general manager Marc Zeidler told the Daily Press. "It was like a family."

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Laurent Quenioux at Bistro LQ. Credit: Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times

 

Anisette Brasserie closes; chef Alain Giraud plans new project



Anisette After months of rumors about its impending closure, Anisette Brasserie has shut its doors for good. Earlier conflicting reports had said that the Santa Monica restaurant would shutter or that it would remain open under new ownership. 

Anisette owners Mike Garrett and Tommy Stoilkovich could not be reached for comment.

Chef-partner Alain Giraud told The Times, "it was truly a business decision. I think the concept is right, but the economy was wrong. We tried everything possible.... The way the economy went, you have to scale differently."  

The brasserie in the 1929 Art Deco Clock Tower building opened in 2008, part of a new wave of brasseries in Los Angeles. The 5,000-square-foot space was outfitted with a 36-seat poured zinc bar imported from France, wood paneling with wainscoting, antique mirrors, mosaic tiles and red leather booths. Giraud, who previously was chef at Bastide, garnered two stars at Anisette from Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila.

Giraud says he already has been working on a project of his own. "I wish we can keep Anisette running. But I have a project I've been working on for a while now. It's almost there. It'll be the first time I have my own place. Small, charming and voilà. Soon, very soon."

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Anisette Brasserie. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

Last call for alcohol (and tacos): Mexico Restaurante y Barra is closing down

Mexico
Larry Nicola's festive Santa Monica Boulevard Mexican restaurant and fancy margarita bar, Mexico Restaurante y Barra, is calling it quits after a little more than a year of business. In a news release, Nicola sites the sour economy as the reason. However another e-mail that was sent to friends and family of the two-story bar and restaurant states very clearly that Larry and his wife, Melisa, are "looking for a new location."

In the meantime, the restaurant's last day in business is Sunday. From now until then there will be happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. each day and $5 margaritas all weekend long. Sunday night's goodbye fiesta is apparently shaping up to be quite a blast. And if you find yourself missing the gregarious Nicola you can always find him at the house that vodka built, Nic's Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills.

Mexico Restaurante y Barra, 8512 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 289-0099; www.gogmexico.com

--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu / Los Angeles Times

Goodbye, Ciudad. Hello, Border Grill [Updated]

Ciudad
Ciudad, the downtown restaurant co-owned by chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, is shutting its   doors -- and reopening as a Border Grill. A farewell tour of sorts -- the Last Days of Ciudad Celebration -- begins today with a $10 Border Grill Downtown LA gift card being handed out while supplies last, plus other deals on food and drink. L.A. Weekly talked to Milliken about the bittersweet nature of it all, and more.

[Updated:] Feniger, reached this afternoon, said the change was a long time coming. "We‘ve been thinking about it for the last year," she said, adding that the change reflects what customers seemingly cannot get enough of: "straightforward" Mexican food. Time and again, the most popular items and specials on the Ciudad menu tended to be the traditional favorites. "We'd put tacos on the menu and people would go for that; we'd put quesadillas on the menu and people would go after that."

Plus, the downtown vibe has changed in the last 12 years. When it first opened, Ciudad was poised to fill a demand for higher-end dining in the heart of downtown, attracting theatergoers, city power brokers, tourists and the like. Now that downtown is becoming a haven for hipsters and families who live and work in the area, the trend seems to be toward more casual dining. In other words, more Border Grill than Ciudad.

But don't expect the same menu as Border Grill Santa Monica. And not all Ciudad dishes are disappearing.

"We're playing with the menu right now," Feniger said, adding that it will include Border Grill and Ciudad favorites, as well as a few new twists. "We'll have the classics on there, and some new things to excite people," she said.

Feniger said she doesn't feel too sentimental about the change.-- after all, they're staying in the same spot. She will, however, miss the name Ciudad, which she always loved. "That I will miss," she said. "But the restaurant business is always transitioning ... 12 years is a long time."

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter.com/renelynch

Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Marche in Sherman Oaks to shutter


Marche

Closings: Squid Ink reports that Marche in Sherman Oaks is closing next month. Its last day will be May 8. The restaurant, which was formerly Max, opened in September. Under the helm of chef Gary Menes, it received two-and-a-half stars from Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila. "We've got a core of extremely loyal customers, but it just hasn't been enough," owner Andre Guerrero, who also owns the Oinkster in Eagle Rock and BoHo in Hollywood, told S.I. 13355 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, (818) 784-2915, www.marche-la.com.

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Santa Monica sushi restaurant closes after serving whale meat

Protests
A Santa Monica sushi restaurant facing federal charges for serving endangered whale meat closed its doors for good Saturday, according to a statement posted on the Hump's website, which called the decision a "self-imposed punishment." "The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species," reads the statement on the restaurant's website. Phone calls to the restaurant and its attorney were not answered. Read more here:

Photo credit: Protesters with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society teamed with members of Pelican Rescue earlier this month at the Hump. Photo credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Sona restaurant to close in May and reopen in a new location next year, says chef David Myers

Myers

Chef David Myers has announced that Sona, his Michelin one-star restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard, will close in May and reopen in a new location in 2011. Myers said contracts are being finalized for the new Sona space but would not reveal the location or details about the restaurant other than that he is working with designer Adam Tihany.

“Our lease is coming up here this year, and we have an opportunity to re-create, to do something new,” Myers said.

The announcement that Sona, which opened in 2002, is closing and then relocating comes about six months after Myers’ former partners pulled out of the fine-dining business. In September, Myers launched management company David Myers Group with new partners. Myers said the decision to move Sona was not directly related to the management upheaval or to the sour economy. “It was a new opportunity,” he repeated. “Companies evolve, restaurants evolve. Sona has always been about trying new things.”

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.