Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan have a growing restaurant empire that includes Rustic Canyon, Milo & Olive, Huckleberry and their expanding chain of ice cream shops, Sweet Rose Creamery. Now they're collaborating with Spice Table's Bryant and Kim Ng to open a new restaurant in Santa Monica's Art Deco Verizon building at the corner of Arizona and 7th streets.
"It’s in the pretty early stages," Loeb says. "We're not planning to open till next summer. We think Bryant's one of the most talented chefs around, and there isn't anything like his food in Santa Monica."
Loeb says he and Nathan also will open a wine shop and bar next door with former Rustic Canyon wine director Kathryn Weil, a place where customers can purchase bottles to take home (along with olives, cheese and cured meats) or drink at the wine bar, with "food that's fun to eat when you’re drinking."
The Ngs opened Spice Table two and a half years ago in downtown's Little Tokyo, with a Singaporean-Vietnamese menu, and Bryant Ng has since been named a Food & Wine magazine best new chef.
At the Santa Monica restaurant, expect Bryant's take on Southeast Asian cuisine, but don't expect a duplicate of Spice Table.
Of the space, Loeb says, "It was one of those places where you walk in and there are high ceilings, beautiful floors, a lot of history, and we thought it was something really special.
"I always thought it would be fun to work with [Bryant] ... and just kind of coincidentally they’d come into Rustic Canyon and we asked if they wanted to do something on the Westside. We really liked the space and each other and we all got excited, and the more we talked, the more excited we got."
The 4,500-square-foot restaurant will be designed by Montalba Architects; the wine bar by Oonagh Ryan Architects.
No names for either project yet. "That's the hardest part," Loeb says. "We always start with horrendous names and work from there."