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Santa Monica Stalwart JiRaffe Calls It Quits After 18 years

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Raphael Lunetta's Santa Monica fine dining restaurant is closing on Valentine's Day, 2015.

JiRaffe, Santa Monica
JiRaffe, Santa Monica
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Raphael Lunetta tells the LA Times that he's closing his 18 year old fine dining restaurant JiRaffe, which he opened with Josiah Citrin. Lunetta, has held the banner of high-end California cuisine high on a busy corner in Santa Monica, only to "let go" of JiRaffe after a nearly two-decade run.

It's a sad state to see an iconic restaurant close its doors, but Lunetta compares the "letting go" of his restaurant to the growth of his teenage son. It's a weird comparison and slightly vague, but JiRaffe really hasn't created much in the way of culinary relevance in the last few years.

But the Santa Monica restaurant deserves praise for being one of the first places to tout market-fresh ingredients with classic technique. Josiah Citrin went on to open fine dining restaurant Melisse in 1999, shortly after JiRaffe's 1996 debut. What will become of this prime restaurant location? Will someone like the opportunistic (and wildly popular) Andrew Kirschner of Tar & Roses pick it up? One can only dream.