“Why can’t you have a beach in the middle of the city?” asked designer Thomas Schoos as he sat in a wooden beach chair at his new restaurant Beach Nation. The sprawling outdoor space with a sand pit, lounge chairs and palm trees is a pop-up beach oasis on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue in West Hollywood.
Schoos partnered with builder Paul Kalt and entrepreneur-restaurateur Robert Azinian for the beach-style restaurant, lounge and coffee shop, slated to soft open Thursday. Beach Nation will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu of salads and sandwiches prepared by chef Wayne Podell and pastries, bread and desserts by Rockenwagner bakery.
All of the coffee is provided by Santa Clara-based Barefoot Coffee, which is developing a private label for the restaurant. A small interior area will offer take-away items and coffee beans in the coming weeks. Beach Nation also plans to start serving beer, wine and liquor soon.
The dining area is primarily outdoors with nearly 3,000 square feet of open space furnished with racing stripe end tables, wooden chairs and tables and pillows adorned with hang-10 hand symbols. It’s all just feet away from the bustling traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard, barely audible over a steady stream of harmonica-heavy songs playing on the outdoor speakers.
Schoos, who also designed Herringbone at the Mondrian and the Huntley in Santa Monica, says he was trying to re-create his first trip to Zuma beach almost 20 years ago.
“It’s really about the nature of California ... freedom, expression, easygoing, people getting together, all the different cultures,” said Schoos. “When I saw this spot, I thought I could bring people together, creating a real neighborhood.”
Schoos is planning on expanding the Beach Nation brand to other locations, each with their own style. Some of Schoos’ signature design elements are peppered throughout the Beach Nation space with a puffer fish dish and small ceramic tables mixed in with the wooden chairs.
“I don’t want to make it difficult to walk in,” said Schoos. “When you go to the beach now it’s, ‘Don’t bring your dog, don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t, don’t, don’t.’ This space is very do."
Soft-opening hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Normal business hours beginning June 4 will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
8289 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, (323) 654-0020, beachnation.com.