September 17, 2019 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Chez Jay Celebrates 60 Years

Taste of Santa Monica
Presented by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce
Written by Barbara Bishop, Mirror columnist and Santa Monica Chamber member.

I love restaurants with a story, a history. They are a few that I love in the LA area, like Musso and Frank, Philippe the Original and Santa Monica’s oldest restaurant, The Galley. Including in this venerable list is Chez Jay. 

Located on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, Chez Jay has been serving locals, celebrities and visitors since 1959. Owners tell me they are known as a celebrity hang out, a “dive bar” and a “classy joint.” I know Chez Jay for its flawless martinis and succulent lobster tail. Back in the 90s, I knew it for its raucous bar scene one night.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Chez Jay is named after its founder, Jay Fiondella. One day in 1959, Fiondella, then an aspiring actor and bartender on the Santa Monica Pier, was having an early morning breakfast at a café after a particularly wild night of partying. The café owner offered to sell it to Jay for $1 and Chez Jay was born. 

Celebrities are not the only famous entities that are a staple of the joint. Chez Jay’s free peanuts are infamous. One of Chez Jay’s peanuts went to the moon, and became, as Jay called it, the first “Astro-nut!” That peanut still resides in the family’s safe.

My first visit to Chez Jay was back in early 1990s, about 26 years ago. It was a Friday night, and the place was at full blast. Photos of famous patrons and Jay’s “loot” from his many travels were hung everywhere. Music was playing from the vintage Jukebox, (the relic still plays oldies from the 60s and 70s). An eclectic crowd filled the bar area, getting louder by the minute as they downed beers, scotch, martinis and other favorite alcoholic beverages.

My girlfriend and I slid up to the bar stools, took our seats and ordered a drink. Before we knew it, guys were buying us shots — of Tequila. Some time later, I walked out of the place. Kind of. I was seeing double, I think. Good times! Ha ha. 

Some 15 years later, I was with some business associates, celebrating my birthday. By then I had given up drinking shots, getting drunk and staying out too late. My attention was on the menu. I was impressed. Steak, lobster, sand dabs, shrimp, pastas. Even one of my all time “faves,” steamed clams!  And they are all divine, prepared to perfection. YUM.

The other cool thing is that unlike the “tragically hip” newer restaurants, the main order comes with a crunchy green salad, fresh vegetables and a starch, like baked potato with all the “fixins,” including sour cream, chives, bacon bits and butter. The cost of that meal was around 35 bucks. The owners tell me that you can get steak and lobster for $44. 

Jay Fiondella died at age 82 in 2008, with longtime partner Mike Anderson continuing day to day operation. Recently, Mike’s son took over as manager. In recognition of its long and storied history, Chez Jay was declared a Santa Monica Landmark in 2012. There’s also a plaque in the front, near the entrance, that says, “In memory of Herb Katz” to mark the life of City Councilman Herb Katz, who was a huge supporter of Chez Jay. Katz died in 2009. 

Owners are now looking to the future, expanding Chez Jay to include “Jay’s Landing,” a patio located at the edge of fabulous Tongva Park. “Jay’s Landing” will have its own separate menu – small bites designed to be enjoyed on the patio or to take out and savored while on a stroll in the Park. Watch for the grand opening in late summer! 

Related Posts

Weight loss for women over 50

February 3, 2019

February 3, 2019

(It looks a little different than it does for 20-and 30-somethings) While 50 may be the new 30, there are...

Santa Monica Sees Nearly 9 Percent Spike in Part 1 Crimes

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

SMPD Chief Cynthia Renaud gives crime update. By Sam Catanzaro Over the past month, Santa Monica has experienced a string...

Edify TV Video: Rent and Minimum Wage Changes

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

By Edify TV More money in your pocket? For many in Los Angeles County, perhaps, under new rent control and...

Man Charged for Murdering Mother

February 4, 2019

February 4, 2019

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office files charges on Stephen Lloyd Fader. By Staff Writer The Los Angeles County District...

Fighting Fires, Tackling Homelessness, Saving Lives

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

The role of fire departments in 21st-century urban centers.  By Keldine Hull Do firefighters fight fires? Obviously, but most of...

SM City Defends Temporary Protective Status for Immigrants

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Staff Writer Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously at their January 22 meeting to join an amicus brief to...

Edify TV Video: Seasonal Cheese

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Edify TV Did you know cheese can be a seasonal item? Hear from a cheesemaker at the Culver City...

SMPD Mounted Patrol Aids in Arrest

February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) carried out an arrest on February 1 with the aid of horses....

MDR Oil Well Explosion Sparks Debate

February 6, 2019

February 6, 2019

Jan. 18 incident sheds light on the dangers of oil wells in the city. By Tor Marom Discussions on public...

Santa Monica Student Earns Perfect ACT Score

February 7, 2019

February 7, 2019

Gillian Varnum of Archer School scores a 36 on the ACT.  By Staff Writer  Santa Monica resident Gillian Varnum, a...

Edify TV Live: Westside Crime Update

February 6, 2019

February 6, 2019

By Edify TV Part 1 crimes are down in some parts of the Westside, but in certain areas, serious crimes...

Edify TV: Cannabis Industry’s Slow Start

February 7, 2019

February 7, 2019

By Edify TV Recreational cannabis has been legal in Los Angeles for a year now, but the industry is not...

The Myth of “Public” Art in Santa Monica

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Over the past few years, the Stanton MacDonald Wright murals at the entrance to Santa Monica City Hall have stirred...

State of the City: Climate Change, Communication Among Challenges Facing Santa Monica

February 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Mayor Davis delivers annual address. By Tor Marom This past Wednesday, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce held its annual...

“Three’s Company” and Santa Monica

February 9, 2019

February 9, 2019

Three iconic Santa Monica locations from hit sitcom. By Keldine Hull “Three’s Company”, the American sitcom that aired for eight...