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SOCIAL CLIMES / UP ALL NIGHT

A Jazzy Affair With a Touch of Class

August 16, 1996|TRACY JOHNSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As one drives past it in West Los Angeles, it's hard not to notice Lunaria.

The strings of white lights draped between the panels of glass in the windows draw attention to this upscale spot, situated on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Glen.

Inside, the pink walls of the bistro-style restaurant and nightspot are covered with watercolors that owner Bernard Jacoupy's grandfather, Andre Montpellier, painted between 1927 and 1946 of the countryside in Italy and his native France.

The pastel hues give the restaurant, named for Montpellier's favorite plant, a warm, mellow ambience. A ginger plant adorns each table, and the lighting is soft, as if candles were the only source of illumination.

Patrons savor the California-Italian-Provencal fare, trying to get their socializing in before the show begins. For at 9 p.m. the restaurant and lounge are joined as a wall between the two is pushed open. The jazz music of Tuxedo Junction begins.

The Preservation-style band heads to the heart of New Orleans with tunes like "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" and "Fidgety Feet." The crowd--baby boomers are the youngest in the room--responds with toe-tapping, knee-slapping sit-down dancing.

Tuxedo Junction, led by actors Conrad Janis and George Segal, plays every Tuesday night. Janis and Segal started gigging together in 1979, and the band has just as much fun as the well-dressed audience.

From his stage-front table in the lounge, regular Guy Vincent laughs. "To us this is real jazz, not that awful modern stuff," says Vincent, who comes to check out the show weekly.

Jazz is featured at Lunaria on Tuesday through Saturday, and with the exception of Tuxedo Junction on Tuesdays, there is a new band each night.

"I wanted to create an interesting restaurant where there were a lot of activities," Jacoupy says. "People here have a good time."

*

* Where: Lunaria, 10351 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 282-8870.

* When: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Open for lunch Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

* Cost: Cover charge for seating in the lounge, $5. Seared peppered ahi tuna, $19.25; mixed greens, $7.25; domestic beer, $4.50; mixed drinks, $5-$6; wine by the glass, $4.50-$7.25.

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