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.
I’m quietly optimistic about Downtown Santa Monica. During the Pandemic, many of the big chain stores and restaurants disappeared overnight. But there has been a recent uptick in activity, at least as far as restaurants are concerned. Many new projects are in the works: Trejo’s Tacos, Nick the Greek, Ugo Cafe, SMiZE Cream, Jinky’s Coffee, Winston are all moving in. And you can add one more name to that list: Practically overnight, a new charming coffee joint set up shop in the former location of Cafe Crepe at 1460 Third St. Promenade. Cult promises “food.coffee.cocktails” and is on a “mission is to pay homage to the city of Los Angeles, its chefs, dishes, drinks and trends”. Check out their menu here. We wish them the best of luck.
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.
For many restaurateurs and businesspeople, opening a new food spot in Santa Monica can be a nightmare. Red tape and delays make the process a long, dragged out affair. (Am I right Lemonade, Creams & Dreams? And Caffe Primo… we feel your pain.) But for some magical reason known only to the god of multinational coffee chains, a new Starbucks can open in days in the notoriously challenging city. It was only back in mid-October that I told you about a new branch of the ubiquitous coffee purveyor being built on the ground floor of Santa Monica Place near Bloomingdale’s. One month and a half later, Starbucks is open and probably giving Ugo Café a run for its money.
You could be forgiven for not noticing that The Beach’s preeminent shopping complex, Santa Monica Place did not have a branch of a large chain coffee shop. There has always been an outpost of the Italianesque mini-chain Ugo Café, and a now departed Groundwork made a valiant effort, but the big name ubiquitous coffee joints have been kept out… until now. Construction is underway on a free-standing brand spanking new Starbucks on the ground floor, near CB2, directly beneath the upcoming Arclight Cinemas.
Only in Santa Monica does one require a remodel after being open less than a year… Anywho, it looks like Ugo Cafe, the fresh Italian eatery on the ground floor of Santa Monica Place is currently closed for a re-do. According to the wallpaper, they’ll be reopening on May 13th, with what well may be a slightly expanded menu. If you’re dying for a panini or gelato, you can still visit their Culver City locations. http://www.cafeugo.com/