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Chez Jay, which is located on the western edge of the future Palisades Garden Walk, may or many not be around much longer as City Hall seeks Requests for Proposals to build a restaurant with modern designs to coincide with the opening of the new park late next year.
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Chez Jay, which is located on the western edge of the future Palisades Garden Walk, may or many not be around much longer as City Hall seeks Requests for Proposals to build a restaurant with modern designs to coincide with the opening of the new park late next year.

News, City Council, Restaurant, Santa Monica

The Future Of Chez Jay Hangs In The Balance

Posted May. 10, 2012, 1:16 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

When the Palisades Garden Walk opens in December 2013, those visiting one of Santa Monica’s prized public projects may seek out nearby places to eat. City Hall hopes to have a park-friendly restaurant on-site, so that hungry park visitors will not have to walk too far to satisfy their palates.

Council members authorized staff on April 24, as part of their consent calendar, to seek Requests for Proposals “for a restaurant operator to lease and remodel or construct a restaurant” that would operate at the western edge of the future Palisades Garden Walk.

The future park site, which is located at 1657 Ocean Avenue, is currently owned by City Hall. A restaurant – Chez Jay – currently sits on the portion of the property where City Hall would like the new restaurant to be located.

With the arrival of Palisades Garden Walk, staff saw an “opportunity for the existing restaurant to be upgraded to better serve patrons of the new park” and hence seek RFPs “for a restaurant operator to lease and remodel or construct a restaurant on the Site.”

“The RFP would indicate a preference for a casual dining restaurant, with or without alcohol, since that meets the objectives of the Civic Center Specific Plan (CCSP) and is designed and oriented to serve Palisades Garden Walk,” staff continued in a report to council members.

Keeping consistent with the overall look of Palisades Garden Walk, the CCPS outlined specific “design parameters” as to how the restaurant should look.

One such design parameter: the restaurant should be a “pavilion-like” structure allowing “for the generous flow of activities from interior to exterior spaces.”

In terms of size, the restaurant should have a maximum floor area of 15,000 square feet and a maximum footprint of 10,000 square feet. The building’s height would be limited to two stories and 25 feet.

“The CCSP encourages the use of verandas, terraces, patios, and other intermediary space in the design of the restaurant,” the staff report continued. “In addition, the CCSP conceived of the ‘park-related’ restaurant and buildings as ‘complementary with the design and activity program for the park.’”

City Hall purchased the land, about 11.3 acres in size, from the RAND Corporation in 2000.

Chez Jay sits on a 7,500 square foot parcel and has been, according to City Hall, “operating on a month-to-month lease since June 2003.” Jay Fiondella, who passed away in 2008, originally owned the restaurant. His daughter, Anita Fiondella Eck, currently operates the restaurant with Michael Anderson.

“Chez Jay has operated as a steak house since 1959 and has a storied history as a gathering place of various celebrities,” the staff report to council members stated.

However, Chez Jay’s current design does not match City Hall’s desired themes for the future park.

“The existing restaurant is oriented toward Ocean Avenue, with no outdoor seating areas or take-out food windows and nominal landscaping,” the staff report stated.

Through remodel or reconstruction, City Hall hopes the new restaurant will offer “excellent architectural merit in keeping with the CCSP design parameters” and “casual dining, preferably with food service to be available throughout the day, in a facility which provides a unique aesthetic and ambiance that relates to the PGW experience by providing outdoor dining and visitor-serving amenities, catering to patrons of PGW and adjacent uses.”

City Hall expects construction of the new restaurant to be privately financed, though a rent credit with the new operator would be negotiated.

The staff reported also added that the future restaurant operator “must be financially and operationally capable of providing quality food and beverage offerings” and must “incorporate sustainable materials and practices into its building and operations.”

The new restaurant must also abide by City Hall’s “Healthy Foods Initiative” and other restrictions, such as plastic bag and smoking bans as well as local hiring preferences.

“Depending on the number and quality of submissions received, staff will either return to Council to seek negotiating instructions for a lease with the recommended operator, or return to council for authorization to seek additional information from a short list of finalists,” the staff report stated. “The goal is to select a lessee and negotiate a lease by the end of 2012 so that the planning and construction of the restaurant can be completed as close to the opening of PGW as possible, which is scheduled for December 2013.”

Chez Jay would be allowed to remain on site if it submits an RFP that meets City Hall’s liking.

Post a comment


May. 10, 2012, 8:42:51 am

Janet Carter said...

Keep Chez Jay at it's current location!

May. 10, 2012, 10:11:53 am

princessdrea said...

Back in the 1970's my dad would have me play hookey from elementary school and take me fishing on the sportfishing boats of SM Pier. The day would always end with us going up to Chez Jay, sitting at the bar, me with my shirley temple and a beer for my dad. Very fond memories, and will miss the place if it's forced out...

May. 10, 2012, 10:24:41 am

maggy lind said...

Don't worry, it will be torn down with all the rest of what is left of Santa Monica. As I said to whoever would listen 3 years ago, Santa Monica is looking like New York City and we are not too far off from that. So, go ahead, tear it down, you are going to, anyway.

May. 10, 2012, 10:27:06 am

Terence Lyons said...

Say it ain't so! Dammit, don't screw around with Chez Jay. Please. Planning commissions and review boards and citizen participation and transparency and all that have their place, but they're not very good at producing character. That requires the vision and determination of a distinctly individual spirit. That has to evolve and mature over time, unfettered by any formal "public input" structure but influenced instead by quirky and anecdotal contributions. Character grows in a community that protects it, but it is destroyed by a community that tries to design it. The LUCE process could never produce a Philippe's or a McSorley's or a Locke-Ober's . . . or a Chez Jay. But it could destroy any one of them. Don't let it happen. The ghost of Jay Fiondella is watching.

May. 10, 2012, 10:27:59 am

xboomer said...

Let me get this straight. Tear down Chez Jay and replace it with something new, but do not tear down the Miramar and replace it with something new.

May. 10, 2012, 10:46:13 am

Stan Kellam said...

Chez Jay is one of the last bastions of history surviving on the Santa Monica Oceanfront. It would be a heartless affront on the city's part to allow this icon to perish at the so called hand of progress. Much like I do not want a Lowe's to replace Busy Bee or Applebee's to replace Snug Harbor. Let the clamshell be.

May. 11, 2012, 9:13:53 am

SantaMonicaNative said...

Stop these people now!. Chez Jay can not be allowed to be pushed out of Santa Monica because the City Council seems bound and detemined to "Disneyfy" the downtown section of our city. So little of the genuine city remains, how can we justify the targeting of a business"s elimination? While technically, Chez Jay is not old enough for landmark status, it is one of a handfull of busiesses identifed with Santa Monica. I don't want to live in a engineered city that resembles the Prisoner's Village. Leave it alone.

May. 11, 2012, 9:34:45 am

Ricardo said...

City Hall has their heads up their As#. Why not just tear down the Santa Monica Pier? There is no preservation of classic / historical sites or businesses in the city. SM has a long history of horrible planning that destroys character....including the nativity scene. I don't know where these City Planning clowns come from but they need to be removed ASAP !!!

May. 11, 2012, 10:39:23 am

j r said...

Oh no! This makes me so sad. All those happy memories - no more :( The one truly casual, comfortable place in SM and they have to take it away. Chez Jay create a simple cookbook and sell it to make money to fight City Hall. You can put in the history of the place and the recipes. I have always loved the garlic steak, calamari steak, clam chowder etc. Please keep this piece of Santa Monica history.

May. 11, 2012, 12:44:42 pm

LB said...

Leave Chez Jay alone. How dare the council remove a piece of SM and Hollywood history. Shame on them.

May. 11, 2012, 1:31:44 pm

Greg Waters said...

Don't you dare touch Chez Jay. The problem with Southern Califiornia (as opposed to the great old joints of say, San Francisco) is the complete lack of appreciation for our history. Chez Jay was the meeting place for many a historical figure, characters in literature (Maltese falson anyone?), and is the progency of Jay -- quite a character and historical figure himself. This need to whitewash and mini-mall ourselves into a mayonnaise and white-bread crackerbox world is BS. Put a patio with tables where the parking lot is, but THAT'S IT!! Stop messing with our history. There are some of us who have lived here for some time -and we care. AND WE VOTE!! Now I'd like a Manhattan and a Chaz Burger please. Thanks.

May. 11, 2012, 3:09:19 pm

Victoria Traweek said...

REALLY!! Let's leave it be. A place where men are men and women are women. We can have a drink, choose to eat healthy or not., a place where stories abound, some more blue than others. Santa Monica get with it. Who's running the show? That needs some rethinking!

May. 11, 2012, 3:22:16 pm

aimee said...

Chez Jay was one of the first restaurants I went to when I moved to Los Angeles 14 years ago, I was told it was a must with tons of character and history, and wow was it true. And I still go today. I cannot believe they'd knock it down. The tourists have the new mall, the pier and the promenade, can't the city leave something untouched? Save Chez Jay!!! Next we'll see Santa Monica Ambassadors riding around on Segways giving tourist directions to places... oh wait....

May. 12, 2012, 8:42:03 am

carrie kommers said...

This is ludicrous and the city of Santa Moniica should be ashamed. Figure out a way to make a funky, beloved local business work. You guys are creative. Come on.

May. 13, 2012, 5:30:32 pm

Monica Bey said...

Oh, by all means, let's destroy any remnant of anything that has character and a story. The ever-overreaching City of Santa Monica is at it again! Maybe the city's "desired themes for the future park." are the problem! Talk about stacking the deck against a small business in favor of developers. "Chez Jay would be allowed to remain on site if it submits an RFP that meets City Hall’s liking." Right ... that's political speak for we're doing it our way, but we'll pretend we've given you an opportunity to play. I hope someone will get a Save Chez Jay campaign going ... start with Facebook and Twitter! It's just downright wrong to try to squeeze someone out of business like this. Shame on Santa Monica!

May. 15, 2012, 3:52:45 am

Sunni D said...

Does everything in this city need to be brand spanking new? Can't we have some character? The city took away the restaurant on the Pier and replaced it with Bubba Gump. Enough homogenization of this city. All the stores on the Promenade are basically national chains. Please allow Santa Monica to have some personality.

Jul. 27, 2012, 5:39:46 am

Johnny Mou said...

City Hall can be fought ,especially considering most of their commitee members have never been in business and all they do is have luncheons and meetings,,,and push paper around . The establishment Chez Jays can fit in the cities plans unless Santa Monica conveniently decides they can get much higher paying tenants that will pay the astounding rent per square foot they will be projecting. Chez Jays should have first crack at submitting plans to stay where they are while their plans may have to be adjusted as the City Of Santa Monica is the new posh posh of beach cities in Southern California. Progress can move forward but dont push the small businesses out .

Sep. 7, 2012, 11:51:27 am

mary mayotte said...

I have been going to Chez Jays for 50 years. Although I no longer live in CA, Chez Jay is the 1st restaurant I go to whenever I am in CA. It's a tradition--great food, great people. It's a TREASURE!!!! What a SHAME to try to replace it with a "cookie-cutter" environment. So sad!!

Sep. 19, 2012, 7:58:13 am

Christina Cox said...

Please check out to stay informed about this issue! On October 8th the City Landmark Commission will vote on Chez Jay's landmark status. It would help if the city council saw a huge turnout of supporters! Please share the Facebook page and date (Oct. 8) with any like minded people!!

Oct. 8, 2012, 5:55:31 pm

Ed Harris said...

Close it down and SM will loosae all my business. If the developer wins this I sure hope the city fails. A national landmark, to be dumped for more drool yuppy food dumps? Santa Monica is ending up with a bunch of idiots and developers and soon nobody will come anymore because it is all tacky and overbuilt with corporate business' - no character what so ever!

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