A popular Mediterranean restaurant near Santa Monica Airport opened a new location downtown Monday.

Crimson serves healthy Persian fare in a sleek space at 606 Broadway. The menu features marinated chicken, filet mignon, ground sirloin, lamb, salmon, trout and falafel in kabob plate or wrap formats, as well as an assortment of salads and Mediterranean sides. The fast-casual restaurant also offers La Colombe coffee and will soon serve beer and wine.

The location previously housed modern Greek restaurant Inotheke from November 2015 to February of this year. Chef Carolos Tomazos is planning to move the small plates concept to Malibu.

Crimson owner Eiman Shekarchi had his eye on the building just off 6th Street for a few years while running Crimson’s first location, which opened in 2013 and found success as a go-to lunch and catering spot for the Santa Monica Business Park and other tech campuses in the area.

Crimson is hoping to fill a similar role downtown, Shekarchi said. The restaurant’s focus on high-quality, healthy food makes it a natural lunch destination: most of its menu is grilled, its sauces are hand-mixed and nothing is cooked from frozen. He’s also expecting regular dinner customers from nearby apartment buildings.

“We import all of our spices from Turkey and Tunisia. I don’t believe in having canned stuff,” he said. “Mediterranean food is the healthiest food, but a lot of love goes into it too, a lot of preparation.”

The interior is distinct from Crimson’s more beachy, mid-century modern Sunset Park location, however, featuring a mural of palm fronds and a pink neon sign. Shekarchi was inspired by a trip to Miami and his love of the ‘80s, he said.

“Every restaurant has its own character, its own space, its own energy,” he said.

Shekarchi also owns Society Kitchen adjacent to the original Crimson location, Sidewalk Grill in Los Feliz and Shekarchi Bar & Grill in downtown Los Angeles. He said he’s excited to expand his footprint within Santa Monica and feels that parts of the city lack restaurants that residents or workers can go to regularly for lunch and dinner, such as along Wilshire Boulevard by Providence Saint John’s Medical Center.

In Sunset Park, though, Crimson has developed a fanbase. Shekarchi said he aims to keep building the brand with his partner and wife, April Heidarian.

“It’s a great feeling when people you meet in the Valley or on a plane to Chicago say “I’ve eaten at Crimson,” he said. “That’s what makes me happy.”
Manager Dalton Deutsch said he wants the restaurant to become the first place people think of when they’re deciding where to get lunch or take friends to dinner.

“I want it to be part of someone’s tradition,” Deutsch said.

madeleine@smdp.com

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