We've known for some time that Jason Neroni and Bill Chait have been working on a project in Venice, and today we know exactly what that project will be. The longtime Rose Cafe, which has been open for 36 years on Rose Avenue, will close on Feb. 9 to make way for a remodel and new concept, which Neroni and Chait are calling the Rose.
Contrary to reports on Eater that the staff has been let go and the ownership is changing, Chait tells us that the Rose Cafe owners, Kamal Kapur and Manhar Patel, are still involved and are in fact partners in the new project. He says current employees have been given two weeks' notice and four weeks' severance pay, and he's hoping that many of them will return as employees when the Rose reopens.
"We sat down with the whole staff," Chait says, "and said, 'OK, let's go around the room. Each of you tell me your name, tell me how long you've been here, and tell me what you'd like to do with your life. Do you want to be a bartender? A manager? Let's make that happen.'" While Chait acknowledges that it will take about four months to complete the renovation and reopen, during which time current employees will be out of work, he says that he's promised to deal one by one with people and help wherever possible. "If anyone's in trouble, or can't find work, we will work to be a safety net," he says. "Some of these people have worked there for 30 years! Some of their kids work there now! I really do understand that legacy. I'd love every single one to come back."
Not all of the workers are thrilled with Chait's offer, and some of them have started a Facebook page threatening a boycott unless workers are paid salaries during construction.
As for the new Rose, Chait and Neroni are doing a massive overhaul, with a $750,000 kitchen and a 200-seat dining room designed by Studio untd, the firm that designed Bestia. They're putting in a wood fire oven, a wood fire grill, a plancha and enough equipment to bake bread on-site. The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch, as the Rose Cafe always has, and add dinner service. The iconic rose mural on the building will stay.
Neroni says that for dinner he's excited to showcase some of his French training. "I came up under Ducasse, and worked at Blue Hill in New York," he says, "And I've never really had the chance to showcase that side of my cooking in L.A."
In terms of scope and style, it sounds as though Chiat and Neroni are going for the model that has proved so successful for Walter Manzke at Republique — a more casual cafe atmosphere in the daytime and a slightly more formal dinner. "If I could be as good as Walter, that would be great," Neroni says. "It's not going to be Republique. But I love that model, of an all-day spot that has a serious dinner."
They are also adding a full liquor license and bar program, which will be designed by Julian Cox, and bringing on a pastry team to oversee breads and a full pastry program.
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All this is happening at the same time as Chait and Neroni are working to open Catch and Release, the Marina del Rey seafood restaurant that's taking the place of Paiche.
The Rose will be open in the first half of this year. "When you say three months, it's always four months," Neroni says. "So let's just say early summer."