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Seafood Mainstay The Hungry Cat Shutters In Both Santa Monica and Santa Barbara

David Lentz’s enduring upscale pub is down to just one outlet in Hollywood

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The Hungry Cat, Santa Monica
Elizabeth Daniels
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Troubling news for fans of The Hungry Cat, as it seems the iconic seafood-focused pub concept is paring down to just its original location in Hollywood. In fact, the Santa Monica outlet has already shuttered says Toddrickallen, while the Santa Barbara location isn’t far off.

All you have to do to confirm the shutter is check Yelp, which currently lists the Santa Monica restaurant as closed. What’s more, that address has also been scrubbed from the company’s website completely, leaving only the Hollywood and Santa Barbara locations behind.

The trouble is, soon enough the Central Coast iteration will too close up shop. The plan is to run the restaurant as usual (though with some heavily discounted food and drink deals) until around Christmas time, then shutter that space too. A note from chef/owner David Lentz left on the company’s website reads in part:

We are very proud to have done business in Santa Barbara for close to ten years. It’s with a heavy heart that we must announce that we are closing up shop! We want to thank all of our past and present employees, local purveyors and winemakers for making it such a great journey.

The Santa Barbara location did indeed land nearly a decade ago, though the Santa Monica iteration only came online in 2011. But as the remainder of Lentz’s note on the Hungry Cat site mentions, "declining business" and "our current economic climate" seem to have created a tough situation for the team.

Of course, Lentz also is a father of three with partner Suzanne Goin (who is a rather busy James Beard award-winning star herself, of course). Still want to experience some Hungry Cat? You’ve got until the end of the year to visit the Santa Barbara outlet, or head to the long-running Hollywood location, which remains open.

Update: Owner David Lentz provides the following statement to Eater LA:

These are very challenging times for small independent restaurants--- increased labor costs, the California minimum wage (which unlike most states does not have an exception for tipped employees), increased sick pay (which is sometimes abused), insurance costs that have doubled since last year and higher payroll taxes--not to mention an extremely frivolous and reckless lawsuit which has cost thousands of dollars in legal fees.

In light of all this we felt it was time close. I am proud of what we did at The Hungry Cat Santa Monica Canyon (especially our 3 star review from the Los Angeles Times), and I have no regrets. I want to thank all the staff that worked extremely hard while we were open as well as our investors and regular customers who supported us so whole-heartedly.

The Hungry Cat Hollywood, which will be 12 years old in March, will remain open.

Hungry Cat

1555 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028 323 462 2155