Mark Peel, left, watches Meadow Lyn Ramsey make a dessert at Campanile in… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)
Campanile, the seminal Los Angeles restaurant founded in 1989 by Mark Peel and his then-wife Nancy Silverton, is closing. Prolific restaurateur Bill Chait and critically acclaimed chef Walter Manzke sealed a deal late Wednesday night to take over the space with plans to install Manzke's envisioned bistro and bakery, Republique, in its place.
The storied restaurant, with its distinctly American approach using top-quality farmers' market ingredients, helped set the tone for Los Angeles dining in the 1990s.
Although rumors of Campanile's closure had been swirling for months, Peel insisted as recently as last week that the restaurant would remain open. But after losing his month-to-month lease this week (Larry Silverton, the building's owner, is Peel's former father-in-law), he said, "Walter and Bill are able, with a lot of financial backing, to pay a lot more. It makes perfect sense. It's money."
Campanile, expected to close Nov. 30, is home to the original La Brea Bakery, which was founded by Nancy Silverton. Irish conglomerate IAWS Group bought La Brea Bakery in 2001 and rented the original location from Peel. La Brea Bakery's storefront there also will close, but the business, which distributes to grocery stores and restaurants nationwide, remains open.
Chait and his Sprout restaurant group, a partnership with L.A. Specialty Produce founder Mike Glick and philanthropist Aileen Getty, have opened a string of chef-driven restaurants, including Picca with Ricardo Zarate, Rivera and Playa with John Sedlar, and Short Order in collaboration with Nancy Silverton, who co-owns Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza.
Manzke, who helmed erstwhile four-star Bastide in West Hollywood and Church & State downtown, and his wife, pastry chef Margarita, had been trying unsuccessfully for more than two years to open their own restaurant in the Factory Place Arts Complex downtown. "I'm very anxious to get back into the restaurant scene," said Manzke, who plans to open Republique in the spring.
Peel said he has no plans to retire, "because I love what I do too much." The chef, who also recently closed the Tar Pit cocktail lounge and the Point deli, said he didn't know whether he would reopen Campanile in another location. "Anything can happen."