Finally, some sequels people are hungry for

Opening a second restaurant is like having another baby: Some agonize over it and others are set on a large brood.

Jonathan Chu knew Buddha’s Belly -- his affordable pan-Asian joint on Beverly -- had to spawn, but it took two years before he found the right location: 2nd Street in Santa Monica.

“It’s like yoga row right up the street,” Chu says, pointing out the mat-toting lovelies who wear a path to and from power yoga every hour. And customers have been wearing a path of their own to Buddha’s door since the new spot opened in January, according to Chu.


When it came to his next location, Sang Yoon of Father’s Office was the ruminating kind: “I didn’t think I had the first one down until two years ago.” Hard to fathom, considering the original location has been around for years and you still need the patience and eyesight of a big cat on a midnight hunt to snag a booth at the tiny Santa Monica gastropub. The second F.O., a hop outside Culver City limits in the Helms building, promises more seats, patio and artisan liquors, and will open this month.

M Cafe de Chaya, of the Chaya restaurant family, has no fear of multiplying. President Yuta Tsunoda has eight or 10 in mind. It’s not (just) for profit either. Chef Shigefumi Tachibe, who created menus at culinary icons Chaya Brasserie and Chaya Venice, is committed to promoting the macrobiotic lifestyle. M, for macrobiotic (no refined sugar, eggs or dairy), will offer the same menu as its Melrose location: organic, seasonal sandwiches, salads, sushi and (macrobiotic!) pastries. The cafe will join the lineup of chic downtown Culver City eateries, moving into what Tsunoda says is an old office building, but looks more like a mini airport hangar. Expect the first gado-gado salad later this month or early April.

Buddha’s Belly, 205 Broadway, Santa Monica, (310) 458-2500; Father’s Office, 3229 Helms Avenue, L.A., (310) 736-2224, M Cafe de Chaya, 9343 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (no phone yet).