The food scene in Santa Monica Place is as mercurial as ever… A banner affixed over the top of the old sign informs us that Fresh Healthy Café has transformed into Sensible Seasonal Healthy Food. Expect a similar menu of smoothies, bowls, salads, panini, and wraps at the free-standing food court lunch counter.
Self-described “outrageously sweet interactive pop-up” Candytopia opens tomorrow (Friday March 2nd) in Santa Monica Place. The exhibit, brought to you by Hollywood “Candy Queen” Jackie Sorkin and described to me by an employee as “an immersive art [experience] made out of candy”, will run for four months. And yes, you will be eating candy. Read more about this spectacularly creative pop-up and get tickets here.
Perhaps you’ve been missing the old Gate of India restaurant that disappeared from its location at 115 Santa Monica Blvd. That space has been (slowly) transforming into something called Tumbi Bar. However, GOI has resurfaced as Rita’s Gate of India in its new location at 1450 5th Street in Downtown Santa Monica.
Tucked underneath the Santa Monica Pier, Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe has long been a favorite watering hole with locals and the beach crowd, and has remained largely untouched since the 1970s. But that’s all about to change… According to a spokesperson, they are expanding into the space just to the north, adding more patio, bar, and kitchen space. And at the other end of the building, a brand new Starbucks is moving in, bringing a much different vibe to this little hidden corner of Santa Monica. Check out the artist’s rendering below to get a taste of how things will look.
It was back in June of 2013, when I first noticed a new Italian restaurant gearing up to cater to the hungry tourist trade on the Santa Monica Pier. Sadly, it appears that Ristorante Al Mare has closed up shop… Making haste to replace it will be Seaside On The Pier, at least according to the plywood covering the remodel. Looks like they’re installing a grill, sandwich shop, and a rooftop lounge.
This week I heard from a reader (Thanks FG!) who told me about the closure of O & O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar at 1705 Ocean Ave Suite #111 in Santa Monica. I went by to check it out… While there is no notice posted and their website is still functioning, Yelp is reporting them as closed and the space is being gutted. Courageously opening in a challenging location back in 2016, it appears the foot traffic simply wasn’t on their side. Sad to see them go…
While no one was looking, Stickhouse, at 223 Broadway in downtown Santa Monica, slipped out of existence and was replaced my another treat shop Merci Clement. If you read this blog, you may remember Merci Clement from its opening in Beverly Hills earlier this year. (Interestingly, it may already be closed: A spokesperson at the Santa Monica location reported it as closed and it doesn’t appear on their official website, but I cannot confirm this.) It looks like this incarnation retains Stickhouse’s array of frozen treats, and adds some French pastries as well.