The Santa Monica restaurant Tar & Roses, a local favorite for chef-owner Andrew Kirschner's wood-fired small plates, will reopen Friday after a half-year hiatus. The restaurant was forced to close in June after a fire in the flue of its oven, which spread to offices upstairs in the building.
During the restaurant's absence, a handful of its popular dishes, including the whole fried snapper, were available at sister restaurant Santa Monica Yacht Club, on the same block as Tar & Roses. But those seeking the signature popped corn, oxtail dumplings, or crispy pig tails were out of luck.
Originally scheduled for fall, the rebuild took longer than anticipated. This was “due to a combination of issues dealing with the lengthy City of Santa Monica permit approval process, and the insurance company,” said Kirschner.
Parts of the kitchen had to be repaired due to extensive water damage from the fire department’s efforts to extinguish the blaze. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, all construction was completed by early September, with the exception of the rerouting of the flue, which was held up on approvals until recently. With that repair completed, the restaurant could finally reopen, with no additional changes to the space. “It's coming back as if it had never closed," said Kirschner.
This effort to pick up exactly where the restaurant left off includes bringing back many of the same staff in the kitchen and the dining room. “Fortunately, most of the staff was financially compensated [by insurance] throughout the down time. This allowed us to retain about 70% of the staff,” said Kirschner.
One notable change will be the absence of former general manager Johnnie Jenkins, who parted amicably from Tar & Roses before the restaurant closed. Taking his place as GM is Yana Omastova, who has been with Tar & Roses for over three years as a server and floor manager. The restaurant has also switched from OpenTable to Reserve for its reservations platform.
The menu will remain the same — that is to say, it will still be seasonal. But the popped corn and the oxtail dumplings are definitely on the reopening menu, per Tar & Roses’ Instagram feed. Here’s hoping the crispy pig tails are on the menu too.
Tar & Roses, 602 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 587-0700, tarandroses.com.