With the St. Regis Monarch Beach hotel facing foreclosure, we thought we'd check in with chef-restauranteur Michael Mina, whose OC restaurant Stonehill Tavern is owned by the hotel. Mina is founder and CEO of The Mina Group, which operates both Stonehill Tavern and XIV in Los Angeles. St. Regis, currently in default on a $70 billion loan, is perhaps best known for hosting the AIG bailout party. Reached by phone last Friday at Stonehill, Mina cheerfully answered a few questions.
Squid Ink: So what's going on with St. Regis?
Michael Mina: I don't know what their situation is. All I know is that the restaurant is operating at a profit. My restaurant would transfer; it just rolls over to whoever buys it.
SI: Things are okay? You're still open for business?
MM: It's absolutely still open; we'll survive anything. We're not going anywhere. If we are, someone's got to let me know.
SI: And the trios are still on the menu; they're not duos now?
MM: One-and-a-half! No, the menus are still in place. We've got a lot of cool stuff going on.
SI: What's your favorite recession food?
MM: A burger, maybe. I don't know if you call a burger recession food. It's comfort food.
SI: You have a $28 truffle burger on the menu.
MM: We're focused now on the bar food. We have all the sliders: our sliders are $6.
SI: So did the AIG folks eat at your restaurant?
MM: You know, not as a group, but individuals came in. We didn't host them--probably should have hosted some of them.
SI: They ate there? How do you know?
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MM: I went and checked all the names.
SI: Wow. How about Bernie Madoff--did he ever eat there?
MM: Not at my restaurant.
Stonehill Tavern: St. Regis Resort Monarch Beach, 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, (949) 234-3318.