In Santa Monica, plans are underway to turn a stretch of unused parking lot into a flower-sprouting promenade, giving us pedestrian-friendly change we can believe in. However, City Hall officials behind the planning of this walkway, scheduled to open in late 2013, are currently looking for a new restaurant to set up shop on the turf of the Palisades Garden Walk, introducing some change we choose to greet with shrieking panic and blind fear. Chez Jay, Ocean Avenue’s character-packed 52-year-old bar and restaurant, just happens to be on the parcel of land where this new restaurant project aims to be erected, endangering one of the city’s greatest and last remaining dive bars and a slice of Santa Monica history that remained a steady constant through many of the city’s transformations.
Santa Monica Mirror reports that City Hall, which bought the land from Rand Corp. in 2000, would like to see Chez Jay turned into a different animal, and is currently looking for bids from restaurateurs to construct a new restaurant on the parcel or convert the existing one.
The new place would be more friendly to tourists and passers-by and is recommended as a “pavilion-like” structure complimentary to the garden project that would be limited to two stories with 10,000-square feet of floor space. As a city project, it would be required to serve healthy foods during the day-time in environmentally-conscious packaging and would probably have a patio and take-out windows.
In other words, while Chez Jay has a peanut that once traveled to space, strong drinks, and a cool ship’s wheel, it has absolutely none of the above. Scarier still for this legendary diamond in the rough, the steakhouse has been operating on a month-to-month lease since 2003, meaning it stands in the way of City Hall and its big designs on the area.
City Hall hopes to have its plans for the new dining facility wrapped up by the end of this year and has opened the proposal process to almost any qualified, and sufficiently moneyed, restaurant operator, including the forces behind Chez Jay, who would be required to submit their own bid to keep their famous haunt alive in some shape and form on this property. Still, if we know the devotees of Chez Jay like we think we do, expect them to speak up!