Exclusive first look at Wolfgang Puck’s two new Sunset Boulevard restaurants
The last few weeks have seen a barrage of restaurant closures, including the beloved Beverly Soon Tofu, the Bellwether and the Pacific Dining Car. But on a recent morning, on the ground floor of the new Pendry West Hollywood hotel on Sunset Boulevard, the sounds of metal clanging and power saws grinding were a sign of a new beginning.
And standing in the center of it all, donning a hard hat and a reflective yellow vest, was Wolfgang Puck, the head of a culinary empire that includes a catering company, Spago, Cut and dozens of other restaurants around the world.
The Pendry West Hollywood hotel and residences, on the southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Olive Drive, is the site of Puck’s two newest restaurants, Ospero and Merois. Both are scheduled to open in the fall.
“A lot of people ask me why I need another restaurant,” Puck said. “The good thing is, I don’t need it. I want it. I love to do it.”
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At Ospero, Puck is planning a “restaurant married to a bistro or trattoria.” Located on the ground floor of the hotel, with an entrance off Sunset Boulevard, the all-day restaurant will have a takeaway pastry counter, a full bar and expansive outdoor seating that wraps around the space. A wood-burning oven will be featured prominently in the dining room.
“The wood-burning oven started on Sunset Boulevard. Spago was the first to have one in L.A.,” Puck said, referring to the original Spago, which opened in 1982. “Now it’s back.”
Puck plans to serve salads, handmade pastas, pizza and seasonal vegan dishes.
Merois, located on the 11th-floor rooftop, will have an indoor dining room and a large patio opposite the hotel pool. Here, Puck will lean toward “Asian-influenced” food with dishes like marinated bigeye tuna with caviar and warm lobster salad — although he’s still working on the menus for both restaurants.
“I make the menu at the last moment because if I write it today, by the time I open, I’m going to be so bored with it,” he said.
Byron Puck, Wolfgang’s 26-year-old son, will oversee the two restaurants. He is currently the manager at Spago.
The senior Puck will be responsible for all the food and beverage on the property, which includes a lobby bar and patio garden, a music venue, screening room, bowling alley (where the chef said guests can order hamburgers, fried chicken “and stuff like that”), private dining rooms and in-room dining. There are six kitchens at the hotel.
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“I’m very concerned, and I talked in the old times with Trump and all these people about what we are going to do with the employees because we have so many on furlough who don’t have a job,” said Puck, who is part of the president’s economic council. He was tapped, alongside Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud, to address the impact of the pandemic on the restaurant industry. Earlier this year, Puck criticized Trump for not reacting quickly enough to the pandemic, predicting that 25% of small restaurants would close as a result. With his two new restaurants, Puck anticipates he’ll be able to hire well over 100 people. “To give people an opportunity to go back to work, it’s really exciting for me,” he said.
The Pendry West Hollywood also is home to the Britely, a new members-only social club. While Merois and Ospero will be open to the public, certain spaces such as the bowling alley, a private area on the rooftop and other dining rooms will be accessible only to club members.
Depending on coronavirus restrictions, the plan is to have the 149-room hotel and multiple restaurants open concurrently later this year. Opening during a pandemic means frequent temperature checks for the staff, increased sanitation measures and drastically reduced dining capacity.
“It is very hard to survive with 25% capacity. You have to go to 50%,” Puck said. “There are a lot of restrictions, but the safety of our employees and customers comes first.
8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 928-9000, pendry.com/west-hollywood
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