For nearly two decades Mélisse has stood as a fine-dining powerhouse out in Santa Monica, a white tablecloth watershed against street food, strip mall dining, and the influx of casual upscale places that forego the pomp and turn up the music. Now all of that could be in very serious jeopardy.
Eater has learned that chef Josiah Citrin’s lease for the 19-year-old Mélisse is set to expire next year. That doesn’t necessarily mean the restaurant will close, but given the changing real estate market across Southern California it’s a fair bet the place will need more money to keep operating at the same level. Reached for a statement, reps for Mélisse sent the following:
In 2019, the lease on the space that has housed Melisse for close to 20 years will come to an end. While Chef/Owner Josiah Citrin has had a great working relationship with the landlord over the last two decades, it’s unclear whether Melisse will remain in its current location. Both parties are working to find a mutually beneficial solution.
What’s more, the final sentence of the statement reads as follows:
Regardless of the outcome, Citrin will evolve Melisse into something new in 2019, whether in its current location or new location.
It’s unclear as of now what the new Mélisse might look like, but given the tonal shift in Los Angeles dining over the past decade — and Citrin’s own more casual proclivities at nearby sister restaurant Charcoal — it’s easy to envision a complete retooling of the space, the food, and the service all at once.
In the meantime, Mélisse remains as strong as ever, and is even launching its annual anniversary dinner series, featuring a number of classic restaurant dishes like the famous egg caviar as part of a $99 set menu. More on this as it comes.