Ashley’s Bright Star Dims and Fizzles

Restaurants open and close frequently these days, in Los Angeles as elsewhere in the country, and sometimes promising new places don’t last anywhere near as long as they should. Still, this is ridiculous.

The newest potential star restaurant in town was a place called Ashley’s, opened on Sept. 15 by Craig Ashley, a veteran of Scandia and the Ivy and for four years a maitre d’hotel at Morton’s, and chef Mark Gonzales, also recently at Morton’s, and before that at the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe and its semi-spiritual offshoot, the Malibu Adobe in Malibu. Ashley and Gonzales chose a site that had been one of the hottest eating places in town, Silvio’s, on Melrose near La Cienega in West Hollywood. The interior, revamped under their supervision, was classy and warm. Gonzales has a good reputation as a chef and early reports from customers were enthusiastic. If business didn’t exactly boom from day one, it was growing steadily. Then on Oct. 15, after barely a month, Ashley’s closed.

What happened? “All the money our investors promised us just dried up,” Ashley said. “To begin with, we had assumed a business that was in Chapter 11, which was probably a mistake. But we kept our spending down as low as possible--we stayed in business for a month on only about $16,000, including the cost of redecorating--and we were really just starting to pick up momentum. We only needed another couple of months.”

And what do Ashley and Gonzales plan to do now? Gonzales answers, “We’re trying to stay together as a team, and we hope to be able to find another restaurant.”


OUR DAILY TOAST: Then there’s the story of the restaurant that closed, at least partially, because it made too big of a name for itself too fast. The Daily Grill in Brentwood, the more casual, less expensive outpost of the Grill in Brentwood, opened a few weeks ago for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now it’s closed in the mornings, beginning service only at 11 a.m. Not enough breakfast trade? Nope. Too much. The place was jammed every morning, says co-proprietor Bob Spivak, and the crowd just put too much of a strain on all the restaurant’s systems.