Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Old Becomes New

Chez Melange is moving! After 26 years at their original location in the Palos Verdes Inn, co-owners Michael Franks and Robert Bell are pulling up stakes and moving to a wonderful space in the heart of Riviera Village.
When it opened in 1982, Chez Melange was on the leading edge of a culinary trend that now is the norm for any restaurant that is serious about food. They were among the first to feature a daily-changing menu that strove to use the best and freshest offerings of local growers. Farmers and other purveyors were credited in the menu. The partners also sought to share their enthusiasm of good food and wine by hosting special events with wineries and by having weekly themed food specials and by offering cooking classes.
The name said it all: the menu was a far-ranging melange of different cuisines and choices. French, Californian, American, was all there.
I started going there in 1984 when I moved to Riviera Village. "The Chez" became my corner bistro. It was great...I could walk there and have a wonderful meal. Even though it was a busy, popular restaurant, the place always had a family feel to it. I remember having dinner there one Christmas Eve and Franks' young son--he must have been about five years old--was wandering around in the restaurant. The customers were keeping him occupied while Mom and Dad were on duty. Now that young boy is part of the restaurant operations.
Chez Melange was a favorite of my Mom's and whenever she visited me she always wanted to go there. I had many birthday dinners there too--including my 40th, which was duly noted on that evening's menu.
Why the move? The Palos Verdes Inn has been on-again-off-again for sale a number of times. The restaurant's 25-year lease expired and they were on a yearly lease. The hotel owners weren't really interested in doing the much needed remodeling. So when the new space opened up nearby, Franks and Bell decided to make the move. The old restaurant closed at the end of August and the new place should be open mid-September.
The new location will bring some new concepts to The Chez. In addition to the bistro, there will be a gastropub offering a more casual menu, a bar for each, and best of outdoor patio. "Natural, seasonal and sustainable" is how they describe their new offerings.
Their lease with the PV Inn obligated them to a 365-day, breakfast-lunch-dinner constraint, and this will be changing with the new restaurant. Breakfast will only be on the weekends now. In my opinion, they had the best breakfasts ever.
I can't wait!

Chez Melange
1611 S. Catalina Avenue
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

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