One of the city’s oldest bars could start serving customers in one of the city’s newest parks if City Council approves a proposal to allow Chez Jay to open a new vending operation in Tongva Park.
Chez Jay might open a take-out counter on a patio that connects to the Tongva Park, offering visitors healthy food, drinks and snacks. The iconic bar and restaurant would be the exclusive concessionaire for the public park through an agreement with the city of Santa Monica that City Council could approve Tuesday.
Under the agreement with the city, the take-out counter serving the park would offer healthy, sustainable and locally sourced meals, beverages with no added sugar and a children’s menu with healthy food and drinks.
The concession stand would include a kitchen, walk-up order window and a bathroom.
Last August, Chez Jay opened a 600-square-foot patio called the Backyard complete with a fire pit, Adirondack chairs and an updated menu that departs from the restaurant’s retro fare, featuring grilled street corn, ceviche bites and crispy chicken sandwiches alongside an array of cocktails.
The Backyard marked Chez Jay’s 60-year anniversary and a change in management from longtime owner Mike Anderson, who took over the business when founder Jay Fionella retired in 2000, to his son Chris Anderson.
The younger Anderson told the Daily Press last year that he would preserve the main, 10-table dive as it appeared to famous mid-century patrons like the Rat Pack and Julie Andrews.
“My dad always taught me that most restaurants have great food, but what was super important was to lock down a great concept, because a patron will remember the laughing and the joking and the specialness of a restaurant over the food,” Anderson said. “You’ve obviously got to have good food, but if you walk into a place and it feels magical, most people remember that more. You can’t just build history.”
But with an of-the-moment patio and a health-conscious concessions stand on the way, it seems that Chez Jay is also ready to embrace 21st-century dining.