The restaurateurs of Beverly Hills are singing the blues these days, almost all of them claiming to have suffered significant losses of business due to the city's recently enacted restaurant smoking ban. At the same time, ironically enough, the community has become a veritable hotbed of new restaurant activity. Smoking, schmoking. There might well be some complainers out there, but lots of folks apparently just can't wait to open eating places in Beverly Hills.
To begin with, Bruce Saiber and Bill Chait, owners of the Angel City Grill on Melrose and of Louise's and Louise's Trattoria in Santa Monica, have taken over the old Cafe Elysee on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills with plans to turn it into "a major take-out food operation." The new place, which will be called the Beverly Market and Restaurant, will include a 60-70 seat dining room, but the emphasis will be on a heroic array of cold dishes, hot entrees (including spit-roasted chickens and ducks and, says Saiber, "legs of lamb, sides of beef"), homemade pasta, in-house baked goods and so on. The establishment will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and will offer home delivery within a reasonable area; target date for the opening of the Beverly is late August. Saiber and Chait, meanwhile, are also negotiating for a location on Larchmont Boulevard, where they hope to install another Louise's.
The Angel City's Melrose neighbor, Johnny Rocket's, is coming to Beverly Hills too, opening later this year on the northeast corner of Beverly Drive and Little Santa Monica, across the street from the La Scala Boutique. Transplanted New Yorkers and lovers of pastrami and such will doubtless be delighted to learn that a deal is currently being wrapped up by which an outpost of Gotham's famed Carnegie Deli will open this fall on the site of the old Red Onion at Dayton Way and (yet again) Beverly Drive. Still farther down Beverly, where the overambitious DDL Foodshow used to be, a "down-home" Southern-style barbecue restaurant is about to open, by the name of the New Dixie Manor.
Meanwhile, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the veteran Hideaway and the new Bordeaux Room remain open but all other food-service facilities are temporarily closed. The plan, says hotel public relations director Helen Chaplin, is to turn the former El Padrino into an elegant restaurant, while transforming what was the hostelry's upscale eatery, La Bella Fontana, into a wood-paneled bar.
The lobby will be expanded (lobby shops will disappear) into a lobby lounge, with drinks served; a high-class coffee shop will take the place of the Hideaway; and an espresso bar will be installed on the Wilshire flank of the hotel. The Zindabad Pub, in the "new" wing, remains open for cocktails and will maintain its present identity at least until the end of 1988.
NEW TABLES IN TOWN: OK, OK, enough talk. Now for some action . The following new restaurants are already open around L.A.: Pacos in Canoga Park, serving unusual Mexican food (such as a whole fish stuffed with shrimp and octopus) . . . L'Olivier, a country-style French place in Tarzana . . . Wildwings Chicken Cafe on the Mall in Santa Monica, aimed at "sophisticated diners who are interested in eating chicken but eager to find uniqueness and originality in its presentation"--all for under $5 per entree, incidentally.
YOU CALL THIS MANNERS? Since I have often written in these pages about the subject of tipping in restaurants, and since I am a great fan of that witty but no-nonsense social arbiter named Miss Manners, it was only natural that, when I saw it advertised, I would send $1.50 off immediately to a post office box in Cleveland for a copy of a whole booklet by Miss Manners on the subject of tips. But I did that on March 2. It is May 4 as I write this, and I still have not received the thing. Really, Miss Manners. How rude !
EVENTS: The "Save the Books" group from the Downtown Central L.A. Library will host a food and wine festival May 31, on the grounds of the Union Bank Building downtown. Among the restaurants represented will be Bernard's, the Pacific Dining Car, Gorky's and the Original Sonora Cafe, with such wineries as Acacia, Jordan, Clos du Val and Robert Mondavi helping to wash things down. Admission is a tax-deductible $65 per person. Information: (213) 690-2011. . . .
High-profile local pastry chef Nancy Silverton will share her secrets at the Epicurean Cooking School in West Hollywood on May 27 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Information: (213) 659-5990. . . .
Another food-and-wine festival is on tap, this time at Reflections in La Canada next Sunday. Held from 1 to 5 p.m. and sponsored by the La Canada Flintridge Education Foundation, it features a dozen restaurants, including Sonora Cafe, Parkway Grill and Rose City Diner along with some two dozen wineries. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door. Information: (818) 952-2047 or (818) 790-2013.