In a new threat to common decency in Santa Monica, ocean-side steak and cocktail classic Chez Jay may be pushed into embracing a tourist-friendly feel to blend in more seamlessly with the ambitious new park space that’s currently under development next door. There’s no question things are radically transforming in Santa Monica, in some cases making Ocean Avenue resemble South Beach more than Southern California. Local developers are pressing for a family-friendly restaurant to go along with the new open-air spread next door, leading the owners of Chez Jay to consider a $1.5 million make-over to serve burgers, fries, and ice cream to pedestrians from a walk-up window. What else?
Other changes could include turning the restaurant’s kitchen into a private dining room. The L.A. Times reports that the main objective here is to preserve the landmark that is the late Jay Fiondella’s bar and steakhouse, a 53-year-old space of endless character where Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Marlon Brando, Mick Jagger, and Steve McQueen have been among the regular clientele.
The current operators of Chez Jay, Michael Anderson and Fiondella’s son and daughter, see the changes around them and are attempting to preserve the restaurant’s legacy by adapting to Santa Monica’s transformation. They have submitted a proposal to the city to open some sort of connection to the encroaching park, while state and local powers continue to argue whether Chez Jay has a claim to the land that it occupies on a month-to-month rental basis.
Even if the kitchen moves and the bar’s back room is dashed for a more family-friendly addition, the ultimate goal is to keep the majority of Chez Jay’s space in recognizable form for its dedicated customers. For anyone who wants to help, a Save Chez Jay Facebook page is currently tuned to the situation.