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Chait nears deal to open Manzke's Republique in Campanile space

September 19, 2012|By Betty Hallock
  • The landmark restaurant Campanile soon may be sold to restaurateur Bill Chait and chef Walter Manzke, who plan to open Republique.
The landmark restaurant Campanile soon may be sold to restaurateur Bill… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Landmark Los Angeles restaurant Campanile, founded by Mark Peel and his then-wife Nancy Silverton 23 years ago, may be closing by the end of the year. In its place is expected to rise Republique, a partnership between chef Walter Manzke and restaurateur Bill Chait.

Rumors have been circulating for several months about the possible closure of Campanile, but discussions and negotiations have been ongoing. When reached for comment on Friday, Peel said, “No deal has been signed, not yet. Campanile is open today, it will be open tomorrow, we have weddings booked in October."

Manzke, Chait and Peel's former father-in-law, Larry Silverton, who owns the building that houses Campanile, say they are close to signing a deal on a new long-term lease. Meanwhile, Campanile chef-owner Peel is negotiating with Chait and Manzke to sell the restaurant assets. (Nancy Silverton sold her interest in the restaurant after she and Peel divorced.)

Manzke, the chef who garnered a four-star review from the Los Angeles Times during his tenure at the erstwhile Bastide and catapulted downtown’s Church & State to gastronomic popularity, is currently in Manila overseeing his latest project, Wild Flour, with his wife, pastry chef Margarita Manzke.

But in an interview last week about Republique replacing Campanile, he said, “Campanile is an unbelievable space — the history that it has, memories, good times. So many people in L.A. have been there and have had wonderful experiences. It is such an honor to take over something like that and be half as great.” 

Manzke says he and his wife have long wanted to open their own restaurant and bakery, and the couple had been working on opening Republique downtown. Last year they announced they had signed a lease on an 8,000-square-foot location at Factory Place. "I had been working on downtown quite some time. I still believe in that, downtown .... But this is more realistic," Manzke said.

Chait and Larry Silverton say that if the deal goes through, the handover likely would occur Dec. 1. 

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