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August 10, 1995|LEO SMITH

For all those who have ever asked, "What's in a name?" just check out La Terraza restaurant at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza for the answer.

Come early September, La Terraza will become Red Rock Ranch. And with that dramatic name change will come an equally dramatic change of menu. A heavy emphasis on western fare will replace the current wide-ranging mix of dishes.

"What we'll be doing is casual California ranch cuisine," said Joe Jackson, the Hyatt's food and beverage manager. "We're going to be western in that we'll have lots of steaks and chops and barbecue items, but we'll be more of a sophisticated type of western place."

In other words, he said, don't look for fried chicken on the menu. Instead, there will be T-bone steaks and grilled entrees. Jackson said the new menu is still being developed.

Along with the name and product change will come a new decor. Jackson said there will be a fair share of western wall hangings, authentic and historical western memorabilia and newly painted western murals.

"The land where the hotel is was originally a ranch," he said. "We're trying to take the history of this area and incorporate it into the restaurant. There will be a Spanish-Mexican influence and also a Native American influence."

Behind all the changes, said Jackson, is a desire to make the restaurant stand out on its own, independent of the Hyatt.

"It may be a challenge, but we're really trying to give the restaurant its own identity," said Jackson. "Hopefully it will just take off for itself."

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The Thousand Oaks Chamber of Commerce will host its first Taste of Conejo & Fine Art in the Park on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., outside the Civic Arts Plaza.

Chefs from the Los Robles Inn, the Westlake Inn, Pasta Concerto (a Thousand Oaks-based French-Italian catering business), the Wood Ranch Country Club and Cafe Bellissimo are among those preparing food samplings. Wine, gourmet coffee and ice cream will also be available.

In addition to the food and drink, 30 artists will display their fine art, and live music will be performed from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission will be free. For more information, call 499-1993 and ask for Nancy Lynch, the chamber's special events coordinator.

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