As gloomy, overcast skies hung over Santa Monica this week, there was a bright, cheery-eyed energy flowing out of an informal bistro.

That restaurant, just past Lionsgate on Colorado, is routinely pretty busy but fairly slammed Thursday afternoon with smiling guests. The reason for the business wasn’t just for the escargot that’s raved about on Yelp — it’s because that restaurant, Le Petit Cafe is set to close this weekend.

Le Petite Cafe, a French restaurant staple of Santa Monica, announced in an email late April that it will bid adieu to the community after a quarter century of service. Saturday, May 11 will be the restaurant’s last day of service.

“It’s bittersweet,” Robert Bourget, owner of Le Petit Cafe said. “Our clientele are so friendly and they come back and bring their family. We’ve had people invite us when they get married, have kids, we met customers’ grandchildren … it’s odd, closing. This is very difficult.”

Bourget says the Le Petit Cafe lease was up and the landlord wouldn’t renew the lease. The landlord only offered Bourget a month-to-month lease, which would have Bourget potentially be asked to leave at some point regardless or open his cafe to massive rent increases.

“We’re not young to keep it going anymore,” Bourget said of he and his wife, who co-owns the restaurant. “We could’ve stayed month-to-month but … The only thing left to do is sell it. We’d like some money for retirement. What can you do?”  

Despite a cheerful disposition, employees were internally gloomy due to the news of Le Petit’s impending closure.

“Very sad, like us,” Bourget said.  “We’re all emotional.”

Many kitchen staff members have been with Le Petit for decades, some since near the restaurant’s beginning– one chef had been with Bourget 22 years, another for 12. Even one of the staff’s busboys has been at his position for 12 years.  

“They’re not just employees, they’re family to us,” Bourget said.

While Bourget’s staff look toward their future endeavors, Bourget looks back at the restaurant’s legacy and looks forward to a nice retirement.

“Me and my wife are looking forward to no responsibility,” Bourget said with a laugh. “Vacation, relax. This small business is big responsibility. It’s a worry. You have to be there all day, 24  hours, 7 days a week. There’s no way you can have someone replace you when you’re not here. So, we are excited to enjoy life.”

angel@smdp.com

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4 Comments

  1. I just passed by yesterday and thought, “This tiny little gem is going to be slammed with business once all the adjacent construction is completed. “ Very sad for patrons and for the long term employees; this was a great spot. But for the owners, we wish them well!

  2. I’m sure because le petits landlord probably sold out to the developers who are erecting giant unaffordable aparment/business building. More people more traffic more crime. What a shame

  3. Such a treasure and a terrible loss. It’s been our favorite restaurant for many years and before I met my boyfriend, I used to come with my French mother (born and raised in Paris). I was spoiled by my Mother’s cooking until I discovered Le Petit Cafe. We will miss you so much. Bonne chance and thank you for many spectacular meals and wonderful hospitality.

  4. ANOTHER CUSTOMER SO SADDENED YOU WILL BE GONE!! A SAD CHANGE FROM HAVING DELICIOUS FRESH FOOD, CHARMING SMALL ATMOSPHER E. GREEDY LANDLORD!!!!!

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