Shortly after Bill Dertouzos opened Flatbush & J, a food biz that caters (literally) to the film industry, he needed reinforcements. A partner he could trust, someone who knew his strengths and weaknesses and could balance his laid back style (and the accounting books). So in 2004, he called Susan McAlindon… his ex-wife.
Apparently, onion rings fit the couple much better than the nuptial version. Last year, they opened Hole in the Wall Burger Joint together.
You wouldn't know Dertouzos and McAlindon once landed in divorce court by the way they quip back and forth about the finer points of a pretzel roll (you can order a plain bun, but the most popular burger is sandwiched between a pretzel roll from Celestino Drago's Dolce Forno Bakery).
According to McAlindon, the arrangement works out just fine. “When you get to know someone this well, you work really well together.” She tends to the bills in the tiny front office while Dertouzos sticks to his turf, the kitchen. He makes the restaurant's pickled cucumbers, mayos (onion, cranberry and chipotle) and sweet potato or Kennebec fries that come alongside the gigantic half-pound burgers. Dertouzos, a big guy, says he got tired of paying top dollar for a hearty, quality burger at a certain unnamed fancy joint, so he decided to open his own burger shack (an apt description of a place with little more than a half-dozen counter stools).
The restaurant, hidden behind Winchell's Donuts on Santa Monica Boulevard (it's not visible from the street), is conveniently located next door to Flatbush and J, presumably so the couple can spend even more quality time together. Proof that hanging out with your ex need not always result in suicide on a bun.
Hole in the Wall Burger Joint: 11058 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 312-7013. BYOB.