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EaterWire: Buddha's Belly II Signage, Changes at Whisper Lounge

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SANTA MONICA: The plywood still surrounds the second outpost of Buddha's Belly on 2nd and Broadway, but that fancy signage is new. Eye-catching awnings, electric signs, the works. About that opening date: Now it's January, but they sound much more firm about it than before. [EaterWire]

MID-CITY/GROVE: We're always surprised that the Whisper Lounge is still going strong at the Grove. Not that it's not a good spot---we like that it's tucked off to the side, hidden---but because it's always been so mediocre. Perhaps it's on an upswing: There's a new chef, Anthony Jacquet (from the Getty Center restaurant), new management with Michael Morgan (most recently at Simon LA at the Sofitel), and the space will get a light facelift soon. Owner Rick Caruso is right to give this, one of his first in-mall ventures, a little love before his Americana at Brand opens in Glendale. No plans for a Whisper Lounge at the Americana, but we're told Caruso has something up his sleeve. [EaterWire Inbox]