The team behind Dear John’s, the revived classic Culver City steakhouse, is now turning its eyes toward the sea with Dear Jane’s, which opens tomorrow night, September 22, at a prime waterfront location in Marina del Rey. The space at 13950 Panay Way, with its floor-to-ceiling windows that offer sweeping views of boats docked in the marina, used to be the home of Chart House restaurant.
Dear Jane’s is the brainchild of chef-baker Hans Rockenwagner, marketing pro Patti Rockenwagner, and chef Josiah Citrin. The trio brought the then-defunct Dear John’s back to life in 2019 and continue to extend its lease; the team initially considered the Marina del Rey space as a potential location for Dear John’s, but pivoted to seafood as the steakhouse remains open for now.
Hans oversaw the design for the 175-seat restaurant, including restoring the bar and personally sourcing, cutting, and installing a wall full of buoys that frames an open kitchen. The overall aesthetic is elegantly and subtly nautical without delving into novelty: think plush yellow chairs, tufted tan leather booths, wooden floors that nod to a boat deck, and a tiered dining room that offers marina views from every level. To line the walls throughout the restaurant, Patti enlisted Santa Monica gallerist Robert Berman to select more than 80 paintings of women from the 1960s and 1970s, which she affectionately refers to as her “Janes.” (Berman also supplied the artwork for Dear John’s.)
“We wanted to showcase the outside but be additive to the view,” Patti says. “The goal was to honor the space and take all the elements of this amazing mid-century, authentic building and just put our touches on it.”
The bar, located just to the right of the restaurant entrance and host stand, is a clearer reference to the old-school steakhouse vibes at Dear John’s, with its brick walls, fireplace, and low lighting. Patti tells Eater that there used to be windows on that side of the building that face the mostly residential Panay Way and the restaurant’s parking lot. To enclose the space and give the bar a more classic, cozy feeling, Hans installed a cherrywood wall.
The menu, meanwhile, skews classic American, with some flourishes. There’s a chopped shrimp Louie salad for two tossed tableside; clams casino stuffed with Meyer lemon breadcrumbs, piquillo peppers, and chorizo; and fish and chips made with beer-battered ling cod. A “bougie bites” section of the menu tips its hat to the bougie tots served at Dear John’s, and offers a selection of caviar, as well as fancy fish sticks topped with caviar and served with a seven-layer dip. Raw bar selections include a tinned fish selection — presented on wooden serving boards made by Hans — and JLC’s seafood tower (oysters, clams, shrimp, a half lobster, stone crab claws, and ridgeback prawns), named for actress and philanthropist Jamie Lee Curtis, a friend of the owners and the voice on the voicemail for both restaurants.
Cocktails are a big focus, too, with plenty of classics on offer, as well as signature drinks named after famous Janes, such as the curacao-spiked Jetson blue, a Goodall mint, and a spin on a French 75 called the Fonda 75. An extensive wine list skews toward seafood-friendly bubbles, whites, and Pinot Noir.
Dear Jane’s will be open for dinner Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant eventually plans to offer brunch service, as well. Reservations are available now.