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David LeFevre Reflects on One Year of M.B. Post

Welcome to One Year In, a feature in which Eater sits down for a chat with the chefs and owners of restaurants celebrating their one year anniversary.
Elizabeth Daniels 5/12

Chef David LeFevre has given Angelenos a reason to trek out to Manhattan Beach. After decamping from lauded American seafood staple Water Grill pre-redux, LeFevre immediately announced intentions to open his own restaurant. A quick seven months later and M.B. Post was born, named for its location situated in defunct post office. Serving what LeFevre describes as "handcrafted, soulful, artisanal foods," M.B. Post was slammed right off the bat and continues to pack a crowd well into the night. The restaurant earned a two and a half star LAT review, and this year it was recognized as a James Beard Awards finalist for "Best New Restaurant," no small feat. Here now chef LeFevre on farmers markets, menu development, and changes to come.

When was the first time you thought about M.B. Post and the concept? I always knew I wanted to be in a beautiful area doing a highly personal project, but the concept arose in 2009.

Were you specifically looking in Manhattan Beach? Yes, we knew we wanted to open in Manhattan Beach.

How did you find the space? After one opportunity fell through, literally four days later our current space came up.

What's the history here? It was originally the Manhattan Beach Post Office. We wanted to give a nod to that history subtly while incorporating materials and colors that are represented in the area and embrace the beach culture.

As for the physical opening, what was the build like? It took us eight weeks once we had the space. We had a killer group with Paul Kurtz and Stephen Jones working together to create the space. I found that I truly enjoy the conceptual creative process.

Did you have to make any changes after the first month of biz? Yes! We had to focus our host and reservation group around the demand we had immediately. It was an interesting challenge to not be able to provide reservations for everyone who wanted to dine, so we had to focus on empathy and gratefulness in order for our host group to explain graciously that reservations were being booked out weeks in advance, and that we wanted nothing more than to provide our guests with a great experience at the restaurant.

What changed six months in? We made some operational changes that allowed us to be more flexible and focus much more on team development. We also began to lay the groundwork for brunch.

How did you put the menu together? I wanted to get people together around the table sharing handcrafted, soulful, artisanal foods that reflected my travels and my style of bold exciting flavors.

Has the menu evolved much over the past year? Yes! Although the format is consistent, our menu is large enough that we are constantly changing with what's available seasonally at the market while still providing some menu favorites. We’re always providing more in-house crafted items, and we have totally evolved our charcuterie selection. This summer the menu will continue reflect our commitment to seasonal, handcrafted, soulful products.

Is the menu fully defined by what you are sourcing from the markets? Yes, we make our menu decisions based on the selection and quality available through our network of farmers. We made a commitment to celebrate them this year with our "Can You Dig It?" featured farmer/guest chef dinners to show Manhattan Beach and our community what great local farmers and products we are lucky to have.

Which farmers markets do you frequent? Mainly Santa Monica, Hermosa, and Manhattan Beach.

You received a strong review from the LAT just a few months after opening. Did you know that was coming? The Los Angeles Times was very supportive from the beginning, but you never really know what to expect. I do know that since the opening I have been very proud of the team that I am a part of, and every crew member we have truly cares about our guests.

Are you surprised by all the success and positive press so far? Yes. We work really hard and are very passionate, but there are a lot of underrated restaurants and chefs and we feel fortunate to get recognition for what we do. We owe a lot to our regulars, the local community, and the LA food community for being really vocal and supportive.

Which dishes do you feel most represent the kitchen here? It seems like every time we do a new dish we challenge ourselves to learn something new. Taking on house-made breads and pastas, and challenging ourselves to make our own dumpling skins, mustards, pickles, and cheeses have made all of our dishes uniquely M.B. Post.

Does it feel like its been a year? In some ways it seems like five! Most of the time it seems like four months. I think that's because we are always evolving, and I enjoy being around our crew and guests so much.

What else is coming up? Would you consider another restaurant? We’ve just extended our Saturday and Sunday hours to stay open between brunch and dinner. On June 1 we’ll start serving lunch on Fridays with our Nooner menu. My 40th birthday is coming up so we’ll do a special edition of Can You Dig It? benefiting Common Threads with special guest chefs and farmer friends. With the Nooner menu just kicking off, we’re still really focused on M.B. Post.

·All One Year In Coverage [~ELA~]

M.B. Post

1142 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266