I began writing soon after following a personal blog belonging to a longtime friend of mine. One of her early blog entries was about her mother, who was one of the two local artists commissioned to paint the original four rose murals at The Rose Cafe & Market back in the early 1980s. You can read more about the artists behind The Rose Cafe’s murals here and here.
The Rose Cafe is a local bakery and restaurant that sits on the border of Venice and Santa Monica. It once housed a short-lived gift shop during my college days, where I remembered a former employer sending me there to buy a 3-piece set of glass oil taper candles (then an overpriced novelty) for his girlfriend. I also remembered the time when my now husband and I met friends who were dining there on a lazy Sunday evening, after a game of Ultimate Frisbee, before running off with them to the neighboring bar called the Firehouse.
I have since passed by The Rose Cafe daily while running personal errands, but I never found the time to stop and dine there. There really was no good reason why I haven’t frequented this place, only that I knew it was the same old Rose Cafe from my single days.
It was just last week that I recently noticed that the original Rene Holovsky/Renata Greene hand-painted signage of the Cafe was updated (or rather, replaced) by a more modern looking one. After talking to my Venice friends, I learned that The Rose Cafe had undergone a renovation after new owners briefly closed the venue, and that the restaurant finally opened last fall. Intrigued, I finally decided to check it out. Before that, though, I needed to find out what happened to the original Rose Cafe & Market of old.
Chef Jason Neroni and restaurateur Bill Chait acquired The Rose Cafe & Market and after much planning and reimagining for the new Rose Cafe, they shut its doors on February 9, 2014 “to remodel the dining space and update the kitchen”. The Rose Cafe’s original owners, Kamal Kapur and Manhar Patel, remain attached to the reimagining of the old neighborhood hangout and local landmark. However, updating the establishment was not popular among the locals. Criticisms ranged from the displacement/lack of guaranteed reemployment of the original staff who acquired 30 years of seniority status at The Rose Cafe, to the gentrification/sterilization of what was once a funky local Venice establishment. You can read more about the backlash here and here.
The establishment has been rebranded simply as “The Rose” (which was why the sign is new) and the restaurant reopened this past November. While the new Owners are excited for the modernization of the menu and space, Yelp reviews have been mixed. Friends insist that I should give it a shot, so after my early lunch with one of them, off I went this afternoon to The Rose Cafe, ahem, I mean The Rose, for an indulgent sweet treat.
The Holovsky/Greene murals survived! They are as magnificent as ever.
The space is indeed modern, with organic touches of natural lighting and succulent plants strategically placed in unexpected places. It feels bigger (most likely due to the reconfiguration of the main dining room; the addition of the beer garden patio and a bar counter/standing room/communal seating; and a redesign of the large outdoor patio). The addition of skylights and large windows allow for the space to feel airy. It is typical of a dining space one would expect from any artisanal restaurant of any large city.
There was so much to choose from in their bakery section, but I managed to settle on freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a brioche egg custard-type pastry. I was in no hurry to go anywhere, so I decided to hang out at the cool outdoor cafe area, away from the hustle and bustle of the other patio spaces and the communal bar area, for some quiet alone time.
Mmm, pretty tasty treats for me. 🙂
I was about to text my writer friend about her mom’s murals surviving the remodel when I remembered that there were supposed to be two more roses on the west wall of the Cafe. After finishing my tasty treats, I went back inside to talk to the friendly counter girl about the murals of the past and she said the Owners went to great lengths to preserve the main roses. I pressed on, inquiring about the two yellow roses, but alas, she had no idea where they were since she had just started working behind the counter.
Check out slides 7 through 9 of this photo stream to see what became of the yellow roses. These murals are no longer visible. Hopefully they are still there, behind the colorful montage of modern artwork that now adorn the west wall, and that someday, the roses will once again bloom for everyone to admire.
As I was leaving The Rose, I noticed the new signage had a message for the diners.
Recipe for Happiness Khaborovsk or Anyplace
One Grand Boulevard with Trees
With One Grand Cafe’ in Sun
With Strong Black Coffee in Very Small Cups.
One Not Necessarily Very Beautiful
Man or Woman Who Loves You.
One Fine Day.
Whether you like the new Rose Cafe or not, the takeaway is clear. It does not matter the new or old, or the beauty of the company you keep, but it is the days spent with loved ones, with shelter, sunshine and coffee, that happiness is guaranteed.
220 Rose Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
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