It's that time of year, apparently, as still more restaurants are closing up shop right before Christmas. This time it's Downtown Johnny's in Sherman Oaks, which began life as Murph's before reconcepting last spring.
Per sources, Johnny's shuttered somewhat suddenly this week, and now the Ventura Boulevard pub space is closed up tight. A call to owner Richard DiSisto confirms the closure, as the longtime San Fernando Valley restaurateur says he has plans to sell the slot.
"I've pretty much lost interest in a building of that size, and the types of things you'd put into a space that big," says DiSisto, who adds that his newest passion is to focus on smaller, more personal projects like Tunnel Bar and Tipple & Brine.
To that end, DiSisto will simultaneously be shuttering Tunnel Bar and Tipple & Brine through early February, with hopes to re-emerge in 2016 with a refined format for success. Citing the oncoming minimum wage troubles and a variety of other overhead issues that make for razor-thin restaurant margins, DiSisto says he'll be looking for innovative ways to deliver the best experience to the customer while keeping costs in line and not alienating his workforce.
So for now, both remain dark. Tunnel Bar, the speakeasy-style upstairs back bar, was already quiet — they run mostly weekend hours anyway — but a new note pegged to their website confirms the closure from December 22 through February 9. As for Tipple & Brine, their OpenTable account is officially offline for the time being.
When asked about the future of his staff, who will be off for more than a month (and just before Christmas), DiSisto says that most will simply be picking up shifts elsewhere in the meantime, or using the shutters as a bit of a holiday. Most, he insists, will be coming back in February, if not before.
And as for the fate of Downtown Johnny's? The space is currently up for grabs, though with the sudden dining focus on Ventura Boulevard, don't expect it to last long.