Like a lush oasis in a desolate desert expanse, Irish pubs represent a safe haven the world over, in any city, any country or on any planet. The Auld Fella is opening its second location at 11831 Wilshire Blvd, bringing contemporary Irish cuisine and craft cocktails to the Westside. However, the Auld Fella is not your typical Irish pub, it “eschews kitsch in favor of a thoughtfully curated menu and lively atmosphere” breaking away from the more common decor that’s usually somewhere between “sports bar,” “snug” and “spit-n-sawdust.”
“We’ve reimagined the Irish pub concept for today’s savvy patron,” says owner Kevin Kearns, adding, “Our aim is to enhance the traditional experience by providing an uncompromising focus on quality.”
This is the second location for the chain, the first opened in Culver City in 2019. The expansive menu is highlighted by the bar’s signature “Auld Fashioned” featuring Lost Irish Whiskey. “Our spirits selection is a showcase of the best of Ireland and beyond,” says Kearns. “And we pour a proper pint of Guinness – the finest on the Westside.”
Located quite literally at the Santa Monica city limits at 3032 Wilshire Blvd, the Katsu Bar is a hidden gem in the north end of town. The former Bank of America building has been stylishly transformed and is also now the home of Paderia, a Portuguese bakery specializing in tarts, Oakberry, which makes acai bowls and smoothies and a Fitstop gym.
Katsu is fried meat, usually chicken, crusted with Japanese panko crumbs. However, one of the restaurant’s biggest draws are Katsu “sandos,” the extremely popular Japanese sandwich made with super soft crustless milk bread. You also find curries, noodles and Korean Gang Jung on the menu.
“Our signature dish is definitely the sando,” manager Alex Kim says proudly, adding, “We have dill egg salad sando, rosemary sando, even strawberry sando.” Even after just a few weeks, Kim says word is spreading and Santa Monica customers are keen to try something a little bit different.
“Our goal is to bring Japanese Katsu to cities across the United States and beyond,” the website says. There are a total of six Katsu Bars across Southern California, with the others being in Koreatown, Crenshaw, Cerritos, Westminster and Tustin.
And then once you’ve over-indulged on delicious Japanese food, you’ll need to make your way to a gym…and why not explore the new 48,000-square-foot Club Studio high-end fitness concept that replaces the first level of the former Bloomingdale’s location at Santa Monica Place shopping mall at the south end of the Third Street Promenade.
Club Studio will be located on level one below the Arte Museum — a “50,000 square foot immersive, digital art destination” — set to open in 2024 in the former ArcLight Cinemas location on level three.
This further advances Santa Monica Place owner Macerich’s — the Santa Monica-based real estate investment trust — planned repurposing of the full former department store and theater space. Macerich expects to announce an exciting complementary use for the second level within the coming months.
“Club Studio adds a terrific new use to our slate of top-drawing retail, dining and entertainment experiences at Santa Monica Place,” said Doug Healey, Senior Executive Vice President, Leasing, Macerich, in a statement.
“We’ve seen proof of how symbiotic, high-end fitness uses add traffic and energy from early mornings to late evenings at our top Regional Town Centers. Club Studio is an outstanding fitness brand with a very loyal and growing clientele, and we are very pleased to welcome them to Santa Monica Place.”
According to the official blurb, Club Studio will feature five unique boutique studio rooms (CS4, box, ride, hot yoga and reformer pilates), plus full-body cryotherapy, steam rooms, personal training, a high-end juice bar and a retail store.