This post is for all those concerned readers who wrote me inquiring about their beloved Margo’s restaurant at 1534 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. In the last wave of COVID shutdowns, Margo’s closed like every other restaurant… but it never reopened. For all intents and purposes it appeared that the popular eatery was throwing in the towel. Well… you can all breathe a collective sigh of relief: A banner hanging over the door is announcing to all that Margo’s is back.
While I’ve been watching the transformation of the former Starbucks at 1426 Montana Ave Ste. 4 (corner of 15th), it was a reader (Thanks again, Kurt!) who sleuthed out the next tenant. While no signs are up yet, I had a chance to speak with someone inside who confirmed what Kurt had discovered: This is to be California’s first branch of Texas’ La La Land Kind Cafe. And what is that? La La Land is a “socially conscious” cafe on a mission to “normalize kindness” by hiring foster youth who, when they turn 18, are often aged out of the system with few supports. I don’t have any confirmation that this will be the model here, but La La Land provides real opportunity and apparently some really good coffee. They offer an extensive menu of coffee and tea, signature drinks, and toasts. We sincerely wish the the best of luck.
It appears that Santa Monica’s tony Montana Ave. is turning into something of a dining destination… Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader (Thanks Kurt!), I went by 714 Montana Ave., formerly home to Osteria Bigoli which called it quits in Spring of last year. While there’s no signage yet, a small we’re hiring notice spills the beans that the new eatery will be Breakfast by Salt’s Cure. Someone inside did indeed confirm the news. I’m told it will open “very soon”. Until then, check out the menu of the West Hollywood branch, and get very excited…
From out of nowhere, a new noodle joint has magically appeared on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. Kai Ramen opened last week to a good reception at 729 Montana. Kai Ramen has locations across LA, and offers a menu of “gourmet Japanese ramen” with pork, chicken, or vegan broth, as well as appetizers, sushi, and rice bowls.
While I’m not quite sure when it happened, it appears that something has moved into the former home of Beaming at 1426 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. The location now sports a sign that declares Discovery Bar by Earthbar as the new resident. Expect a “healthy holistic supply” of vitamins, lattes, bowls, juices, smoothies, and grab-and-go meals.
I’ve been hearing whispers that the construction on the corner of Montana Ave. and 10th St. in Santa Monica would eventually be the home of an “Australian” coffee shop. But I was unable to get concrete information until recently, when an ABC application was posted on the front. As you can see, no business name is listed. However, the ABC application online clearly spells out that this will be a branch of coffee experts Bluestone Lane. And this one will apparently have beer and wine on offer as well.
I’ve been hearing from readers that Osteria Bigoli has permanently pulled the plug, so I went by their location at 714 Montana Ave. to have a look. Like many businesses right now, there’s a scrawled note on the front door saying that they’re closed until further notice. But as you can see, their sign above the front door has been removed and one reader (Thanks Kurt!) let me know that the interior decorations are gone, so it looks like they probably don’t have plans on reopening. Let me know if you hear anything different.
Back in early February, I mentioned to you that I had heard a rumor that Starbucks was closing its location at 15th St. and Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. At the time, I had no proof. This week, a note went up on the door that they have permanently closed. Expensive rents on Montana Ave. are to blame, or so I’m told.
We’re living with madness right now, and shops and restaurants are really feeling it. If you haven’t been out much, you may not have seen that stores have begun boarding over their windows. Sur La Table at Wilshire and Third is covered, and Williams Sonoma on Montana Ave. is also boarded. What they’re anticipating is anyone’s guess…
It appears that a new tea room is heading for the space that used to house a florist shop at 726 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. Window paper is up announcing that Buena Vida Tea Bar & Garden is moving in. The window paper promises us orgainic fair-trade tea, baked goods, afternoon tea, ceremonial events, and an outdoor patio.
It started out as a teaser, with the word breadblok scrawled on the plywood covering the renovation of the old Spazio Caffe at 1511A Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. Eventually, window notices went up, and I reported back in March of last year that local farmer’s market staple Breadblok was indeed moving in. Breadblok opened last week, offering the good people of Santa Monica a menu of Provence-inspired artisan breads, pastries, and tartines that are “organic, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, gum-free, [and] refined sugar-free”.
And while we’re on the subject of sad closings… I have it on a solid inside tip that Santa Monica’s chic palace of all things kitchen-related, Williams Sonoma is set to close its doors. It is currently still open, and I do not have a time line, but I believe the intel is trustworthy. Williams Sonoma has been a sparkling anchor on the east end of Montana, and its demise will leave a cavernous hole in the upscale shopping district. By the way, I’m also hearing that the Starbucks on the corner of 15th and Montana is set to close as well due to high rents.
Update: I strive for accuracy because I know many of you trust me for food news. At the time that I wrote this post in February, I had it from a good source that they were planning on closing. However, this appears to have changed. Unlike their Beverly Hills branch, this one appears to be remaining open, for now. This pandemic has been rough on local business. If you wish to keep Williams-Sonoma open, I encourage everyone to shop here as often as possible, and support other local businesses as well. (written 12/30/2020)
Back in August of last year, I told you about a new treat shop landing in the old Blue Plate space at 1415 Montana Ave. You wouldn’t know it from the lack of signs, but Santa Monica’s branch of Erin McKenna’s Bakery opened over the weekend, joining locations in New York, Orlando, and on Larchmont. Look for a menu of donuts, muffins, cakes, and other sweets, as well as breakfast and lunch items that are vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and kosher.
It was almost a year ago when I noticed that Spazio Caffe had vacated its space at 1511A Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. After an extensive build-out, window paper is announcing a new tenant. With locations in SoCal farmer’s markets, it appears that Breadblok is looking to get a brick-and-mortar. Expect a menu of Provence-inspired artisan breads, pastries, and tartines that are “organic, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, gum-free, [and] refined sugar-free”.
I’d been hearing whispers (Thanks T!) that Montana Avenue’s perennially-busy fave Italian joint Forma was expanding into the cavernous hole left by the abrupt closure of Chaya Venice at the corner of Navy and Main St, but I had no evidence. Now there’s proof. An ABC application recently went up in the window confirming that the good people of Venice will soon be getting a Forma of their very own.
And while we’re on the subject of openings… Ever since I first told you about popular salad chain Sweetgreen‘s expansion to Montana Ave. in Santa Monica back in July, a great many of you have been checking for updates. So here ya go: Sweetgreen officially throws open its doors today (Friday Feb. 22) at 1517 Montana Ave. You’re welcome.
Back in May, I told you about the demise of Rawkin Juice from the location at 705 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. And now it looks like there’s a new tenant moving in. Window signage is up informing us that this will be a branch of meal delivery service Fresh n’ Lean. Promising healthy food that is “Fresh as F*#!” (their slogan painted on the wall inside), Fresh n’ Lean has locations throughout the U.S.
Remember back in July, when I told you about some incredible detective work sent to me by a reader, Patricia? Practically out of thin air, she had deduced that the new building that was under construction at Montana Ave. between 15th and 16th streets was soon to be home to Santa Monica’s second branch of popular salad slingers, Sweetgreen. I couldn’t get confirmation, but I passed this info along based on her confidence and the evidence she provided. Turns out, she was right. Paper is now up on the window for all to see that Sweetgreen will soon have a new location on Montana Ave.
Well that didn’t take long… It was only back in August when I told you about the abrupt closure of local fave Pradeep’s at 1405 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica. Then, days later, window paper informed us that something called Prima Baja Cocina was swiftly moving in. With so many of you following this story, I’m amazed to tell you that Prima Baja Cocina officially opened last night (Wednesday, Oct. 3rd). If you follow the restaurant scene ’round these parts, then you know that such a fast turnaround in Santa Monica is practically miraculous. Look for a tight and well thought out menu of Baja-style tacos, salads, starters, and larger plates in a bright and airy atmosphere with friendly staff. (Check out the prototype menu below, but I’m told it’s still in development and subject to change.) We wish them the best of luck.
Update: Eater has more of the details here.