All-day neighborhood eatery
The Gables is an all-day eatery that combines all that’s great about the laid-back vibe of West Coast Santa Monica, with a busy, East Coast-style fast casual dining concept.
Owned and conceived by Restaurateur Kevin Lazan, The Gables sets out to create new traditions for the West Side with its comfortable atmosphere and home-style Californian menu; its location being perfect to appeal to a mix of Santa Monica neighborhood locals and tourists alike.
“We wanted to create a vibe that felt like you were in your own dining room, surrounded by friends. It had to be unpretentious and inclusive, but still have the elements that we all seek when we go out to eat—a cool setting, an inspiring menu with really good staple items, along with some surprises,” says Lazan.
Chef Vicki Fan Matsusaka’s menu features a curated, Southern Californian all-day menu of healthy plates and comfort classics using ingredients sourced at the local Santa Monica’s Farmer’s Market, as well as ethically raised meat and sustainable fish, all complemented by a carefully selected wine list and a selection of craft beers.
The Gables is inspired by the story of a local Santa Monican Beach Club of the same name that was never fully completed in the 1920s. The beach club was originally based in a simple wooden structure, built right on the sand and the owners had grand plans to develop it in to a huge tower with turrets like a Chateaux, but due to The Great Recession, the folly was never realised.
Working with our LA architectural partners, Relativity, our aim was to create the feeling of an independent community eatery, that represented its locality in beachside Santa Monica. Fundamentally, we’ve tried to create a space that straddles the line between being somewhere where local people will feel comfortable and at home, while also having an aspirational quality that locals will feel proud to have in their neighborhood.
“We felt it was time that downtown Santa Monica had somewhere akin to the design movement happening in Venice Beach, so we have captured the creative spirit of Santa Monica through details and materials, such as the quintessential air-bricks that we’ve re-purposed as counter-fronts, paired with white-washed wood and thick Carrara marble tops that complement the delicious, Southern Californian menu and craft drinks. The overall aesthetic is quintessentially Santa Monica beachside - a homey vibe that feels both comfortable and also aspirational.” Dan Einzig
Overcoming a challenging space
The original space was formerly a jewellery store with suspended ceilings and panelled walls, which, once stripped out, provided a huge space. We have kept as much height as possible in the main area in order to create a generous space in what is really quite a small footprint. We also created a suspended wooden pagoda over the dining room space in order to hang plants and create a more intimate vibe towards the rear of the space.
By replacing the original facade of the 2500 square-foot building further back in to the space, The Gables now has a charming and contemporary covered dining patio for all-weather dining - bringing the outdoors indoors with floor-to-ceiling windows basking the interior space in natural light.
The covered patio dining area at the front is also made to feel double the size with a huge mirror that reflects the interior view through the floor to ceiling windows. The distinctive floor tiles have inspired the design for the paper coffee cups and the brass topped tables help to give the space a delicious glow of warmth.
A vertical garden flanks the patio wall, with cascading greenery adding color and texture to the restaurant’s Santa Monica beachy aesthetic.
Interior design specifics
We used a range of materials to give a contrast of everyday finishes, such as white-washed wood, glazed tiles and mid-century air-bricks with aspirational touches of brass, poured concrete for the flooring and Carrera marble for the countertop. The concrete bricks around the bar and takeout area were inspired by those overlooking Santa Monica beach and the design of the gate was inspired by the gates in Palisades Park.
The color palette of white and blue is contrasted with warm splashes of gold and natural greens from all the potted plants.
The furniture was largely stock items that have been customised with paint and upholstered with our own fabric; while the bar counter and back bar is all designed bespoke for The Gables.
Collaboration with local artists
To convey a local, neighbourhood feel and a homey aesthetic, that truly captured the spirit of the Santa Monica community, we collaborated with well-known local LA artists, including Allison Kunath, who created a huge mural; Love Berto, whose work has graced the walls all over the Westside, Photographer Pascal Shirley and Bumblebee Loves You. There’s also a huge photo of the Beastie Boys, taken on tour in LA by famed photographer Rickey Powell in 1994.
Branding and identity
The branding has been given a polished yet ‘non-corporate’ look, with a suite of graphics inspired by the distinctive blue and white patterned tiles that we specified on the patio.
The color palette of ocean blues and white is coherent with the interior design. With a range of informal fonts and hand-drawn letters, it all combines to convey The Gables’ laid back, artistic and contemporary beach style.
“I chose to work with Mystery after meeting several agencies. What impressed me was their clearly defined methodology for both the creative direction and brand positioning. Dan took us through this strategic process and the resulting vision for our concept is an exciting collaboration that helped draw out my own thoughts and combined them with Mystery’s insights in a clear structure that’s guiding our decisions across the business. Everyone is thrilled by the interior scheme, including our guests.” Kevin Lazan Founder/CEO The Gables Restaurant.
The Gables is now open and destined to become a favourite hangout of Santa Monica locals and visitors alike.