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NIGHT LIFE

Goa is serious about food too

August 01, 2008|Charlie Amter | Times Staff Writer

MICHAEL Sutton, co-owner of Cahuenga corridor's Goa, is on a mission to educate Angelenos about the modern supper club. The 38-year-old entrepreneur believes that dining, drinking and dancing all in one location, a concept that's proved popular in Europe, can be equally appealing to Americans, and not just the local moneyed set.

"All over the world, people go to supper clubs to dine, drink and then listen to great music," Sutton explained last week. "Goa is still a young restaurant at a time when Hollywood is just starting to gentrify."

Although Goa is only one of the Hollywood venues blurring the line between restaurant and nightclub -- others include Ritual and Green Door -- Sutton's establishment has managed to grow at an impressive clip since opening its doors roughly nine months ago, making improvements along the way. Now that his establishment is a certified hot spot frequented by the likes of "The Hills" stars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, Sutton said the idea is to focus on food.

In particular, Sutton, who played Stone Cates on the long-running soap opera "General Hospital," is proud to have partnered with Ted Fujita, who owns Yu-N-Mi Sushi, to expand Goa's menu, which now includes cooked items.

"I've been eating at the Beverly Hills Yu-N-Mi Sushi two or three times a week for four years," Goa said, professing his passion for Fujita's Japanese fare. "Yu-N-Mi has a unique sushi menu. Every fish is carefully paired with just the right sauce. It really is an experience."

By fall, Sutton, who co-owns Goa with Adolfo Surya and Fujita, and designer Kristopher Keith will trade lounge tables in the facility's main room for more traditional dining tables to send a not-so-subtle message to clubbers, and he is redesigning the area in between Goa's dueling indoor bars that some treat as a dance floor.

"We're building one big booth in the middle of the room so there is no more misinterpretation of the space," he said.

The changes are, in part, a response to increased scrutiny from police and fire department crews that have been called to Goa on several occasions over concerns about crowds exceeding capacity and concerns that Sutton and the other owners are operating the business in ways that conflict with their current license. (It seems Heidi and Spencer aren't the only ones who consider Goa more of a nightclub than a dining destination.) "Our problems are a consequence of our own success," Sutton said of the stepped-up enforcement by authorities. "Because we are so hot, along with that comes a lot of scrutiny from the city."

With full-on dancing no longer an option -- though bold-faced-name DJs such as Samantha Ronson still man the decks from time to time -- it remains to be seen whether the crowds will turn up when dinner service begins at 8 p.m. to sample the sashimi or creamy rock shrimp tempura. On local dining blog Eater LA, Lesley Balla posted an item Monday incredulously stating "Goa serves food?"

Chances are competitors SBE, owners of nearby Japanese restaurant Katsuya and rival lounge S Bar, will be watching with great interest.

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charlie.amter@latimes.com

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Goa

Where: 1615 N. Cahuenga Blvd.,

Hollywood

Hours: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays (adding dinner service from 7 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays in the fall)

Info: www.goahollywood.com

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