I recently heard from a devastated reader who had just discovered that The Halal Guys had quit their West Hollywood location at 8919 Santa Monica Blvd. (They actually closed in June). But I went by to check out the space anyway. As it turns out, there was an ABC application posted on the front. No business name is listed, but the online license information states that the name of the new establishment will be Gym Sportsbar and Grill. You may recall that LA’s branch of Gym Sportsbar operated a location for 10 years at 8737 Santa Monica Blvd., but closed down in June due to challenges related to COVID-19. Gym Sportsbar bills itself as “the first and only gay sports bar in Los Angeles”. We wish them the best of luck.
Sadly, it appears that glittering West Hollywood institution Ago has called it quits, having served their last meal over the weekend. Ago has stood like a sentinel near the corner of La Cienega and Melrose for 20 years. It was a quiet fortress for industry power players who, dripping in Chanel and LV, would make their way from the string of Bentleys and Lamborghinis in the car park to the twinkling patio to dine on branzino, deftly deboned tableside, washed down with multiple rounds of excellent negronis. The Tuscan menu, created by Chef/partner Agostino Sciandri (in partnership with Robert DeNiro and others) was good and reliably served by polished Italian natives. I’d been hearing whispers of trouble for a while now, and some long-time employees had been let go, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but it does feel like the end of an era. I for one, will miss it.
I’m told the space has been sold and a new venture is expected by March or April. As always, I’ll keep watching…
A prominent window display at 8360 Melrose in West Hollywood proclaims the impending triumphant arrival of Sweet Jesus, a Toronto-based ice cream chain. While cheekily-named, Sweet Jesus’ website makes it clear that they don’t want to “offer commentary on anyone’s religion”, but rather deliver “pimped out” soft serve ice cream cones with lofty heights and creative add-ons. They also do cakes, shakes, and frappés as well. Sweet Jesus has locations across Canada, and one other US location on the East Coast. I’m predicting that Sweet Jesus and Paul Smith‘s nearby notorious pink wall will be a social media match made in heaven…
On a tip from a reader (Thanks Shawn!), I went to check out what was going on at Mediterranean eatery Allspice Kitchen & Grill at 7501 Sunset in West Hollywood. Sure enough, a large for lease sign on the front and gutted interior confirm that they have indeed closed. Their Yelp page promises a temporary closure, but I think it’s safe to say there looks to be little hope of that…
There’s a big banner up on the side of the erstwhile Flavor Of India corner space at 9045 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. It reveals that a new pizza joint, Crustica, will soon be moving in. There isn’t a great deal out there yet on Crustica, but a developing website promises the “best pizza you’ve never tasted, and the best you ever will”.
WeHo’s Continental Kitchen is expanding. Signs are up on the space at 8300 Wilshire Blvd. (corner of San Vicente) in Beverly Hills, that used to house BrewDog Pub, announcing the impending arrival. And it looks like they’re fairly close to opening. Expect a large and varied menu of smoothies, salads, breakfasts, burgers, wraps, bowls, and more.
It was almost three years ago that I first noticed that a branch of Caffe Primo was intending on moving into the corner space at 7th and Arizona in Downtown Santa Monica, across the street from wildly popular Cassia. But all that appears to have changed. Recently, all the window announcements were pulled down, and a for lease sign has gone up on the vacant space. It looks like the West Hollywood location is gone as well. I’m not sure what happened, but I’ll keep watching to see what develops.
Ever since short-lived Aestus vacated their space at 507 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, I’ve been carefully watching to see what would move in. Well, now we know… The windows were recently papered over informing us that the good people of Santa Monica will soon be able to partake of “modern organic Mexican” at an upcoming branch of Tocaya Organica. With branches in West Hollywood, Venice, and Miami, it looks like in they will also be expanding to Westwood and Hollywood as well, according to their website.
McCabe’s Bar has sat empty for a while now, and Eater has been wondering what would be moving in since August of last year. Well now we know. An ABC application posted high in a window indicates that a branch of West Hollywood’s Vito’s Pizza will soon inhabit the space at 2455 Santa Monica Blvd. I had a chance to speak with the very enthusiastic and passionate owner of the eponymous restaurant, Vito DiDonato who explained that McCabe’s had left everything in poor shape. He was looking at a fairly extensive remodel to replace virtually everything. He optimistically projected an opening roughly in about four months. We wish him the best of luck…
I recently noticed that signs are up in the window of a tiny space at 412 N. Bedford in Beverly Hills that used to house a hair salon announcing that West Hollywood’s Rawberri will soon be bringing raw acai bowls to the land of Spago, Cut, and Mr. Chow. Rawberri offers a menu of superfruit bowls that are organic, dairy free, gluten-free, and soy free. But that’s not all. They will also be the first vendor in the US serve Australia’s CocoWhip. What’s CocoWhip, you ask? A vegan and bio-fermented coconut soft serve frozen yogurt that comes in flavors such as matcha slim, and cacao bliss. No word on when this temple of Hygeia will open, but in the mean time, check out their website here.
I just noticed that signs are up in the window of the space that used to house the unfortunately named and short-lived sandwich shop Bite Mi Café announcing the impending arrival of Cousins Maine Lobster to 8593 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. TV’s Shark Tank darlings Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac (the “Cousins” appear to be expanding their growing lobster truck business into brick and mortar. No word on an opening date or what exactly will be on offer (although I’ll wager a guess that it will have a great deal to do with lobster), but you can read more about CML here.
Apparently actress Jessica Biel has long wanted to bring her organic restaurant idea Au Fudge into existence, and now it looks as though she’s almost there. I recently noticed an application posted in the window of the space that used to house Smoke and Artichoke’s Heart at 9010 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood announcing the impending arrival of Au Fudge. The concept? A kid-friendly environment that New York Magazine is calling a “Soho House for kids”… and by kids, we mean well-heeled and connected kids. According to an announcement on the website Jessica Biel Central, looks like the A-list little ones can expect an opening sometime between February and April of next year.
Downtown Santa Monica continues to be a flurry of urban renewal. I’ve been carefully watching the development on the corner of 7th and Arizona, which until recently has been concealed by scaffolding and plywood. All that came down this week to reveal an ABC application in the window. With locations in West Hollywood and Downtown LA, looks like popular casual eatery Caffe Primo is expanding west, to 702 Arizona Ave. to be exact. No word on an opening date yet, but until that magical day, you can read more here.