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Another Iconic Santa Monica Venue to Shutter Its Doors


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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jorge Casuso

August 8, 2018 -- When Santa Monica rings in the new year it will bid farewell to yet another local establishment that put a stamp on Southern California's cultural scene.

After 46 years on Pico Boulevard, Valentino -- the restaurant widely credited with introducing Los Angeles to authentic Italian ingredients -- will close its doors.

“It wasn’t a sudden decision but the conclusion of a big chapter,” owner Piero Selvaggio told the Los Angeles Times.

Valentino's wine cellar
Valentino's wine cellar (Courtesy of Valentino)

“It has been a long, difficult decision, mostly based on a restaurant that has been my American dream, my claim of fame, my mistress.”

Valentino's follows in the footsteps of other culturall staples that have either closed their doors for good or found a second life after Santa Monica.

They include legendary venues that helped build Santa Monica's reputation as an adventurous cultural destination, such as:

* Hennessey + Ingalls Bookstore that left for Downtown Los Angeles after more than half a century in Santa Monica as the West's biggest bookstore specializing in art and architecture ("Iconic Bookstore Closes Storied Chapter in Santa Monica," September 15, 2015),

* Vidiots, which for more than three decades was a hub for movie buffs looking to view that rare film and gather to discuss the craft of movies ("Vidiots leaving Santa Monica," January 25, 2017), and

* The Santa Monica Museum of Art, which is now showcasing vibrant works in Downtown LA under a new identity and name ("Santa Monica Museum of Art Finds New Home in Downtown LA," May 10, 2016).

The beach city also has lost most of its live music venues -- the Alligator Lounge, the Temple Bar and 14 Below have all gone under after decades showcasing local, as well as, international rock, blues and experimental acts.

Other renown establishments that closed their doors were throwbacks to an older, slower time.

Tudor House, where patrons could sip British tea and nible on cucumber sandwiches, closed its Downtown shop that attracted locals as well as British ex-patriots ("Santa Monica’s Tudor House to Serve its Last Cup of Tea," May 22, 2012).

While the Tinder Box, known for its unique blend of tobaccos considered by connoisseurs the best smoke in the West, closed last year after 90 years in business.

But some of the biggest names have been trend-setting restaurants , including Border Grill, which introduced the region to modern Mexican cuisine, and Real Food Daily, a stomping ground for vegans tired of the usual fare.

And come year's end, Valentino, tucked along a stretch of old storefronts near the eastern of Pico Boulevard, will open its last bottles of wine on New Years Eve.

The restaurant, which in the 80s and 90s drew the wealthy and powerful from across LA, has been known for its wine celler, which holds more than 100,000 bottles from around the world.

Selvaggio, who had put the restaurant up for sale, said he hopes to take the “heart” of Valentino to Newport Beach, where he will open a restaurant called Louie's, the LA Times reported.


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