Siblings Brandon, Chloe, and Tyler Makhani are opening Casaléna, a coastal Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, bar, and events space in Woodland Hills on Monday, June 26. The trio is turning a property their parents constructed in 1982 — and where they later married in 1990 — into the San Fernando Valley’s newest dining destination, complete with five separate dining areas that span approximately 6,000 square feet of indoor space and 2,000 square feet of outdoor space.
Coming from backgrounds in hospitality, real estate, and entrepreneurship, the siblings have created the hospitality group Avondale Equities. With Casaléna, they have built a space that aims to embody a European resort. Chloe explains that the inspiration for the name comes from the light the trio aims to bring into the space. She says, “I always used to see my dad in the kitchen with a small bite and a glass of wine. And even if he had the worst day at work, I would always ask him, ‘How are you? How was your day?’ And he always would say, ‘Fabulous. I’m fabulous.’ And I think that’s what we want. I want to see that with every single person that comes into the space. We want to make their day fabulous.”
The siblings have high hopes for Casaléna and are even billing the concept as a full-on lifestyle brand. “Of course, we’re a restaurant first, and an event space second, and we have all of these amazing elements that are involved in the space, but I think we’re trying to actually create a brand,” Chloe says. “There’s this imaginary woman; her name is Lena. Lena’s house, Casaléna, house of light. [...] There’s this love and light and I think that’s why we’re creating Casaléna. It is that house of light that we grew up in and we’re just kind of making it that lifestyle brand that that we’ve always wanted.”
“We’ve been trained to be hosts since we could walk,” Brandon adds. “It’s a lifestyle. It really is. It’s like a bug, and you catch it and you can’t get rid of it.”
Craft cocktails — including a white Negroni sbagliatto, a smoked fig Old Fashioned, and four types of martinis — from culinary director Danielle Sobel (Catch LA, Masa NYC) will be served alongside grilled seafood, prime steaks, pizza, and pasta that pull inspiration from Italy, Spain, and the surrounding region. The culinary team is led by executive chef Lobo Leon (the Rose, Cento Pasta Bar). There are starters like whipped eggplant served with a toasted baguette, charred octopus, and squash blossoms. Large plates include butterflied whole branzino, shrimp scampi, and short ribs. Other menu highlights include various crudos, salads, and sweet corn agnolotti. The full menu is included below.
The Makhani siblings have grown up regularly going to the now-Casaléna space for big occasions — including the wedding of an aunt and uncle and Chloe’s bat mitzvah — and everyday meals back when the space was Villa Piacere, and Lautrec before that. “We really had a big advantage there because we’d spent so much time in the space,” says Tyler. “We essentially got to reimagine our dream version of that. And I think that that’s going to play a really instrumental role in our success at this location.”
There are five unique dining areas at Casaléna, both indoor and outdoor, and each with its own look. There is a bar and lounge, an atrium with vaulted skylights, a sunken patio and garden surrounded by lush greenery for al fresco dining, a fully enclosed terrace with floor-to-ceiling glass, and a private sunroom that takes up the second floor. There are chandeliers, fireplaces, and artwork throughout, selected to create a grandiose, warm, and contemporary environment. The spaces have been designed by Margaret O’Brien.
The trio is excited to bring their restaurant — and brand — to the Valley. “There was a need and demand from the clientele and the neighbors in the area for something that was a little bit more refreshed, something that was a little bit more elevated, something that maybe would require a second generation group of siblings to kind of infuse a little bit more of those modern touches,” Brandon says. “We feel like that demographic has made it known that that that there’s an interest and that they don’t necessarily want to drive an hour through rush hour traffic to be able to go to the hot new restaurant openings of Central LA. The desire is there, and the population is there. And the core value of hospitality is to provide your guests with an experience that they’ve been longing for.”
Opening for dinner service with plans to extend hours down the line, Casaléna will be one of several spots in the Valley’s bustling food scene, just half a mile east of Woodland Hills classic Dan’s Super Subs and a mile west of Gasolina Cafe, which also serves some of LA’s best Spanish food.
Casaléna is located at 22160 Ventura Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. The space is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and will stay open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Bar hours extend until midnights Sunday through Thursday, and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations can be made here.