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Opinion, Letters To The Editor, Santa Monica

Renee's Courtyard Café In Santa Monica To Disappear: Letter To The Editor

The original owners of Renee’s Courtyard Café at 522 Wilshire Boulevard no longer own the mainstay as of Sunday, Feb. 3.
Courtesy photo
The original owners of Renee’s Courtyard Café at 522 Wilshire Boulevard no longer own the mainstay as of Sunday, Feb. 3.

Posted Feb. 4, 2013, 9:06 am

Letter To The Editor

Editor's Note: Renees' Courtyard Café has been sold to a new owner, and the family who founded the Café no longer owns it as of Sunday. The new owner intends to run it as Renee’s for several weeks to a couple of months until such time a new concept is put in place. The original owners said they had to sell Renee's due to the skyrocketing rent and their landlord unwilling to work with them to keep Renee's going.

Dear Editor,

Most Santa Monicans will wake up today and not realize that their city has changed. A part of the city has been lost forever. Today a special place, Renee’s Courtyard Café at 522 Wilshire Boulevard, has closed to be replaced by another chain restaurant. Today Santa Monica is a little less Santa Monica and a lot more Orange County. To those of you who never stumbled into Renee’s you have no idea what you have missed.

When I first moved to Santa Monica from the OC I felt like I fit right in. The unique shops, the beach, the pier, the uniquely individual homeless people all overcame the blandness of the 3rd Street Promenade to make me feel at home. But discovering Renee’s is what made me truly fall in love with Santa Monica. The first time I walked into the dark entry way I was curious and a little intimidated. I was greeted by one of the sweetest women that I have ever met. I sat on one of the four bar stools and felt like I had come home.

This was the west coast version of Cheers and I soon became Norm. Shelly, Sam, Carla, Coach and Woody all had counterparts in Shira, Leia, Jack, Brother John, Whitney, Darian and Renee herself. My side kick Cliff was not a postal carrier but one of the funniest and most cynical attorneys that you have ever met.

I never tired of watching tourist walk in and seeing if they instantly felt the charm of Renee’s like so many of us did or if they went running back to the corporate sterility of a Yardhouse, Hooters or Dave & Busters. On any given night you might have rubbed elbows with a famous actor, musician or athlete and not even known it.

It was a place I could take a date on a Sunday evening to listen to Simon or one of his guest’s acoustic and surreal music. If my date didn’t feel the magic then I knew she wasn’t for me. And if one of those dates tuned out to be mentally unstable and later came looking for me at Renee’s (where they all knew to find me) I knew that the bartender would have my back and send me a text warning me.

Today I am filled with sadness. For Santa Monica has lost some of the personality she had yesterday.


Mark Evans, aka Norm Peterson

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Feb. 5, 2013, 10:30:06 am

William O. said...

As a neighbor of this establishment and a fellow landmark business owner of Santa Monica, this is disheartening. I have lived here for 12+ years, maybe less than many readers here, but have walked into and stumbled out of Renee's on enough occasions to know that this loss is a kick in the pants to the Santa Monica landscape. I used to slip into Renee's when I just needed to disappear into the walls and people watch. That's what it was to me. People, read this and take note. If you don't support local businesses, those businesses will lose, Santa Monica will lose, and you will lose. Little spots like this are the soul of our town. There are numerous things that can easily be purchased online for less money, but I choose to buy from area businesses because I know because I know that every dollar counts. If it's a national chain, it's going to just do that, chain the doors of local business closed.

Feb. 5, 2013, 2:11:22 pm

Cindy said...

Shock and awe that another institution in Santa Monica is going the way of homegenization. Pretty soon you can walk into most any place in Santa Monica and you will be hard pressed to know what city you are in. Santa Monica's charm is fast disappearing.

Feb. 5, 2013, 2:26:08 pm

Sue said...

Just another sign that the city of Santa Monica is being run by folks who care more about tourists than they do about residents. I am constantly amazed at the restaurants and shops that go out of business citing high rents and then see those spaces lie fallow for years, i.e., Montana Avenue. Residents need to attend more city council and planning meetings to let them know that we are the main struts of the tax base in this city - not the hotel tax revenues and the ffew dollars that tourists spend at our restaurants and shops. We LIVE here and SPEND more $$ here at our local shops and restaurants than any tourists ever do. Has anyone ever asked if we really need more hotel space? Please ask for occupancy rates at local hotels before another new room is built, i.e., the horror being proposed at the Farimont Miramar which will be an eyesore and a traffic nightmare!

Feb. 5, 2013, 11:01:41 pm

Doug Stoddard said...

Renee's closing is indeed very disappointing. This was truly one very unique place in Santa Monica and I certainly am planning on packing my bags soon. So much for the current owner keeping it open for a few more weeks I saw them tearing everything out of there today, 2 days after closing. Thanks for the memories. See you in Silverlake

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