The Misfit opens tomorrow in Santa Monica for lunch and dinner, and we're chomping at the bit to see what's in store. The restaurant’s concept is myriad; a conversation with owner Bob Lynn of LGO Hospitality reveals inspiration from post-Prohibition America, modern art, Amoeba Music stores, and Chanel mannequins.
It’s a lot to take in, especially considering the restaurant it replaced. Acclaimed chef Alain Giraud was focused singularly on bringing Paris to Santa Monica with the Anisette Brasserie (Jonathan Gold called it "a proper brasserie"), and it didn't last more than two years.
The location itself, located on the ground floor of the historic Clock Tower building around the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Third Street Promenade, attracts two distinct populations: tourists and Santa Monica office workers. Perhaps in reference to Anisette, Lynn notes that most working people don't want to spend $30 at lunch, and that the legions of tourists that descend upon Santa Monica are looking for a taste of America, not anything else.
Perhaps that's why the restaurant's goals seem sprawling and ambitious. The Misfit will serve food that is “clean, light, clear, simple,” but it will also serve “general debauchery.” Lynn's other restaurants are more neighborhood-focused, but in order to survive, The Misfit needs to become a tourist attraction as well. Here’s owner Bob Lynn on the struggle that the location and the space present, as well as his take on a few other things.
On the restaurant location:
It’s kind of exciting because while 3rd Street Promenade is heavily tourists, it kind of represents a world exposure and a world market. For our company, it’s super exciting because the other places we have are very much more locally based, and this is a little more like being in one of the more touristy areas in Manhattan. It’s a really kind of a special opportunity.
On the other hand:
It’s going to be a place where you can really afford to eat there every day. And I think you’ve got to be careful –-whether it’s the Promenade or Manhattan, for people that are working in the area and on a budget -- not everybody wants to go out and spend $30 at lunch.
His love for Los Angeles:
LA’s a very special place. Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Pasadena -– I was born in Chicago, but I totally consider myself a Californian.
This is my third restaurant in Santa Monica, and it’s the only one that we have now. We’re residents of Santa Monica, and to be honest with you, we love Santa Monica. People are well educated, they have a lot of experience, they totally know what they’re looking at. I think as long as you play with your cards up, you’re all good.
How he sees himself:
In the past, people have wanted me to promote myself more as a chef. I certainly spent my whole career cooking, but in many ways I see myself more like putting together a movie.
About that hiring video…
The point is that I personally talked to and interviewed every one of our servers and bartenders –- we just created 90 jobs -– and everyone one of them absolutely loved it. Most of this group is under 25, and they absolutely loved that thing. And that’s really how people communicate now. People aren’t really picking up the want ads anymore, so we thought it was a cool opportunity to try something new. I think as we go forward we’re absolutely going to do it again and keep reaching out that way.
I think Gino Angelini [of Angelini Osteria], if you talk about somebody who is my hero -- this is someone who is really in the kitchen, day in and day out.
Shallom Berkman who owns Urth Caffe is a very ideals-driven guy. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s very ideals-based, and I just love that about him. He’s not trying to squeeze every dime out of it, he’s just trying to do the right thing. He’s just a wonderful guy.
His favorite food:
We love Lebanese food, we love Thai food, and particularly stoked about Turkish food lately. Carousel in Glendale, Sunnin in Beverly Glen, and Thai restaurants everywhere.
*This post has been edited to remove "breakfast" from the list of meals The Misfit serves.