Holiday pro tip… There’s one yearly tradition that many of us don’t relish: Standing in a long line at a local See’s Candies to buy essential gifts for hosts, coworkers, out-of-town relatives, and service folks. But this year, to ease the burden on Santa Monicans, See’s has opened a full size pop-up that practically no one know about yet. It’s on the ground floor of Santa Monica Place, near Nordstrom, and it promises to save you a lot of time. You’re welcome.
The space at 1237 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica has seen a number of eateries come and go. Years ago it was a Greek restaurant, then a BurgerIM, and most recently, a hot chicken place was slated to move in. But apparenty that fell through… Italian specialists Ugo Cafe has long had a relationship with Downtown Santa Monica. Originally, they had a shop in Santa Monica Place. Then they moved to 1400 Third Street Promenade. And now, they are opening a new location at 1237 3rd St. As you can see, the sign displays the new business as Ugo An Italian Trattoria. A spokesperson assured me that this will be their second location in Santa Monica (and third in total), and whereas their current Promenade location is more of a “grab and go” concept, the new location will be more of a “fancy” sit-down restaurant.
That didn’t take long… Back in February, I told you about the arrival of SMiZE Cream to the space formerly occupied by Ugo Cafe in Santa Monica Place. You may recall that TV personality and model Tyra Banks was behind the premium ice cream project. Sadly, it appears that they have cleared off from Downtown Santa Monica. Their website says that they are switching to a delivery model.
Lovers of cultish confectionary empire Sprinkles will soon be able to get their fix in Santa Monica. Just outside the sluggish and half-closed food court of Santa Monica Place a brightly painted storefront has appeared almost overnight. I looks like this outlet will only be a home to one of their signature ATM’s, but when you’re desperate for cupcakes, does it matter?
Don’t underestimate Ugo Café! When I told you about the closure of their Santa Monica Place location (which is now in the process of turning into Tyra Banks’ SMiZE Cream), I thought that was the end of their footprint in Santa Monica. But the plucky Italian coffee and food purveyor hasn’t given up just yet… A banner has recently gone up at 1400 Third St. Promenade (formerly home to Caffe Bella) announcing their impending triumphant return.
In the very center of Santa Monica Place is a small, unassuming kiosk that, until last September, used to be the home of Santa Monica’s branch of Ugo Cafe. Now window covering is informing us that something called SMiZE Cream is moving in. And what exactly is SMiZE Cream? Apparently, it is a “Super premium ice cream w/ a hidden, yummy SMiZE Surprize” launched by none other than TV personality and model Tyra Banks. (SMiZE = “smile with your eyes”) Definately an interesting development for Downtown Santa Monica…
Sadly, I fear many businesses, and restaurants in particular, will not outlast the current COVID crisis. I’ve been reporting on multiple closures across The Westside. Yet another appears to be the beloved Italian coffee bar Ugo Cafe, set on the first floor of Santa Monica Place. If you’re missing their proprietary coffee or pastries, they still have two other locations.
As you know, mall food courts have been hit hard with closures. The third floor of Santa Monica Place is no exception. But one plucky contender is going to give it a try. Plywood is up on the space just to the left of the food court announcing that something named 100% Ice Cream & Coffee is moving in. I don’t have much information on this place, but the sign says that organic grass fed ice cream will be on offer.
Back in June of 2017, I applauded Z Pastabar’s courageous decision to brave the sputtering food scene in Santa Monica Place. At the time, Z Pastabar had high hopes of a big expansion across the LA area. Sadly, it appears that things did not go as planned: Following their other SoCal locations, Santa Monica Place‘s branch of Z Pastabar is now closed.
The last remaining soldier in the Market, that once promised us a Ferry Building-style experience atop Santa Monica Place, has finally found a new home. The popular culinary academy The Gourmandise School has now opened in their elegant new space across the way, next to the also recently relocated The Curious Palate. And what of the Market at Santa Monica Place? As I’ve already told you, it looks poised to become a children’s museum, thereby completely extinguishing any further gastronomic hopes.
Back in August of last year, I told you about a sign of hope in the risky restaurant scene on the third floor of Santa Monica Place. An ABC application let us know that Torrance’s The Dudes’ Brewing Company was taking over the commodious space once occupied by Pizza Antica. So, for all you who have been patiently waiting and checking for updates, I deliver this happy news: The Dudes’ officially opened its doors last week and is now supplying craft-brewed suds and pizza to the good people of Santa Monica.
Still more signs of trouble for the consistently sputtering food scene in Santa Monica Place. It appears that another of the concessions on the third floor has disappeared. CrepeMaker has unceremoniously vacated its food court location. In other news… If you were hopeful that the failed The Market space might return with the promise of a new food venture, I’m afraid your hopes are about to be dashed on the rocks. In case you haven’t heard, the space is being converted into the Zimmer Children’s Museum, at least according to the new window displays. Perhaps the Dudes’ Brewing Company, currently under construction, will breathe new life into the third floor.
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.
The last remaining tenant of the failed Market at Santa Monica Place is pulling out. Culinary educators The Gourmandise School are moving to a new third floor location in the mall, just to the right of the recently moved The Curious Palate. What’s next for The Market? I’ve heard whispers that it will be turned into a multi-use space, but I cannot confirm that, so we’ll just have to wait and see…
I noticed recent activity at the in-store restaurant on the third floor of Santa Monica Place’s outpost of Nordstrom. It appears that what was formerly Blue Stove is transforming into a “casually sophisticated” bistro, Bazille. It looks like they’re not too far from opening, but until then, you can compare menus here.
Could the stumbling food scene in Santa Monica Place be recovering? Z Pastabar recently opened, The Curious Palate jumped locations but not the ship, and The Cheesecake Factory appears constantly busy. Yet there are still four cavernous restaurant spaces that remain idle. But soon you can make that three. Signs are up on the front of the space that used to house Pizza Antica informing us that Torrance’s craft beer specialists The Dudes’ Brewing Company will soon be moving in. We wish them the best of luck.
It’s often been said that when God closes a frozen yogurt joint, he opens a fast food pasta restaurant… Here are the latest changes to the stumbling Santa Monica Place food scene. Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt has closed up shop just outside the food court. And plucky contender Z Pastabar has opened inside the food court, which is now completely occupied.
It takes a brave eatery to give it a go in the sputtering food scene that is Santa Monica Place. Apparently Westside Pavilion’s Z Pastabar believes it has what it takes. They are moving into the last open space in the food court. But that’s not all: The courageous carb purveyor is moving into the new Westfield Century City Shopping Center, and is opening locations across LA according to their website. As a grand opening promotion, the upcoming Santa Monica location is giving away free food if you download their app.