After facing a potential eviction earlier this year, Culver City restaurant Etta will close at the end of December 2023. The closure was confirmed by the incoming operator of the space, Paul Pruitt, whose management company Mosaic runs the rooftop Canopy Club on the property. Etta staffers were notified last week; Eater reached out to Etta management but did not receive a response.
Chef Michael Santoro, previously of the Beverly Hills Hotel and the culinary director of American Gonzo (Pitfire Pizza, American Beauty, Superba Food & Bread, and the Window), will lead the kitchen at the new and yet-to-be-named restaurant. Pruitt’s other partners include Sky Strouth (COO) and Alex Racioppi (Mosaic co-founder and CEO). Together, the four will relaunch the Etta space with mostly the same decor, save for a few aesthetic tweaks, by January 2024. All of Etta’s staffers have been offered positions at the new restaurant and most of them intend to stay, says Pruitt.
The incoming restaurant will serve mostly Italian staples like pasta with wood-fired dishes including pizza and grilled meats, Pruitt tells Eater. Breakfast will commence on January 3 with lunch and dinner scheduled to start on January 8. Brunch service will come at a later date.
Etta in Culver City opened in September 2021 as the first expansion outside of the group’s existing Chicago location. Early reports were mostly positive and the restaurant was doing brisk business (approximately $20,000 to $30,000 a night). In April 2022, partners David Pisor, Jim Lansky, and chef Danny Grant, who each had equity in the business, fought for control of What If Syndicate, the restaurant group that owned Etta and operated the highly lucrative Maple & Ash Steakhouses in Illinois and Arizona. Pisor and Lasky eventually settled, with Lansky taking ownership of Maple & Ash; Pisor was left with control of four Etta locations, including the Culver City outpost.
In May 2023, former investors sued Lasky for allegedly mismanaging $3 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds meant to pay staff salaries. The investors claimed Lasky used the money for country club dues and private jets, among other inappropriate expenses.
Etta laid off multiple senior corporate staffers in June 2023 including positions in marketing, human resources, and operations in what Pisor called a “right-sizing” of expenses. Multiple sources said that the restaurant had been struggling due to a loss of sales from the ongoing writer’s strikes and its proximity to Apple, Amazon, and Sony studios and offices.
In late July 2023, property owner Ivy Station, LLC, which is owned by real estate company Lowe, sent Etta numerous eviction notices over the alleged nonpayment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in back rent. Later in August, Ivy Station and Etta reached an agreement to amend the lease and withdraw the eviction proceedings.