Cal Shabu * Santa Monica

The Inception of a "Japanese" restaurant

Archive for the month “April, 2011”

3D 4 Real

Main Front High Bar

This is the first time we’ve ever had real 3D renderings that actually looked ultra-realistic, and also the first round of interior design mockups. I’m sure it looks a hundred times better than real life, but it definitely sells itself on paper.

Middle Counter Bar


Since the floor level of the restaurant is slightly below the street elevation, we lose quite a bit of square footage addressing the level drop. Why couldn’t it just be flat?


Facelift Definitely Needed

Even though the retro 80’s are back, doesn’t mean our exterior color scheme should match! This brings us to yet another city application; exterior signage. Approvals take 4-6 months on average, but we couldn’t risk the back and forth jeopardizing our main restaurant build, so we’ll have to suffer the peach/cream and teal trim color palette until someday when the city approves us… Maybe we’ll just make a really big vinyl banner and just use that forever.


Hopefully nobody is getting overloaded with art, because there’s more coming. After visiting the MOCA show again, I found “street art” on the streets!! Whaaatt???!! But I stumbled upon it by accident, and don’t think the museum really publicized any of this work. About 3 short blocks away from the museum in the area surrounding 3rd and Traction, there are art and graf pieces everywhere you turn. If you have any trouble finding the area, just search for Sci-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) on your phone and just start wandering their parking lots.

The Evolution of a Floorplan

By some absolute sheer stroke of luck, the prior tenant had been an attempted shabu restaurant, so we were able to reconfigure and salvage some of the partially built systems. Still, the meat and bones of the build had not yet been completed.

The biggest challenge by far has been our ventilation shaft which requires cutting through each of the 3 concrete floorplates. Its an engineering nightmare. The building was never built with a shaft, and isn’t making it easy to shoehorn it in. Above is the original semi-existing floorplan from the old tenant.

Part of the reason this project has lagged for so long is the somewhat numerous plan changes we submitted to the city. The picture above is actually only the second half of our interior layout design process. The floorplan really morphed over time in our attempt to get the most out of the site configuration. Here’s our final plan:

Seating Surprise, Surprises…

The bases came out beautifully with a satin, nickel, raw finish. The flame blue welds have a stunning titanium pewter-like quality, and the powdercoating came out perfectly. Now for the surprise, the bases ended up being a little lighter in weight than expected. This means there may need to be some rigidity tweaking. oy…

MOCA: Art in the Streets – Downtown LA

Mr. Cartoon’s Ice Cream Truck

In addition to consistent food and service delivery, it is really our hope that we would be able to use the restaurant as a vehicle to promote both the arts and local community outreach and philanthropy. There are still many details to be worked out to make this all a reality, but as a start we’re looking forward to working with Stoked Organization and hosting some of their events.

Stoked, amongst other things is primarily a mentoring program for the underprivileged communities with an emphasis on action sports. One of their annual fund-raising events is an art auction, which is something we would like to eventually participate in. I also have a soft spot for Stoked because their auction was one of the first places I personally purchased original art instead of a mass produced print. Spend some money on an original piece of art, benefit a cause, And get a tax write-off on your purchase… what’s not to love?! With the number of customers that come through our doors, it seems only natural that we should try and use the foot traffic to our advantage. This program will take shape as we go.

So you may wonder what MOCA has to do with anything. The “Art in the Streets” exhibit is the first museum curated urban art show ever, and naturally a historic event for the urban art industry. Especially for a city such as Los Angeles, whose streets played such an important role in the development of this culture, it just seems like we’re witnessing a changing of the guard in modern art.

Most of us have heard of Banksy, seen Shepard Fairey’s world famous OBEY Andre the Giant icons pasted somewhere around the city, or maybe even stumbled across a random space invader hiding up some building corner, and the reality is that these guys are the Andy Warhols, Keith Harings, and Basquiats of our generation. Try not to miss the show! This is one of those shows you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Don’t forget your student ID, if you still have one, or consider getting a MOCA membership, which is what I did. There are just so many small details to absorb in one visit. I’ve been twice already, and its pretty much paid itself back. The show runs until August 8.

Barry McGee and his crew set up a complete ghetto street installation complete with signage, graffiti, trash, and even life-sized mechanical graffing teens.

To bring everything back to the original question about MOCA’s significance, we hope to feature art from some of the artists who participated in the street art show, as well as up and comers fast following in their footsteps. In our eyes, good food, drink, friends, and all of the design, music, and art that surrounds us, goes hand in hand. Its our hope that California Shabu Shabu can become that local hub for the community, and we’re grateful to MOCA for kickstarting the next generation of contemporary art.

Sorry, forgot this: 930 Broadway, Santa Monica, 90401

California Shabu Shabu Santa Monica
Coming July 2011 sometime

We’re on the corner of Broadway and 10th St, which is closest exiting Lincoln off of the 10 West. We will have some underground parking, but specifics will be worked out as we get closer to opening. Santa Monica poses one of the biggest parking challenges, and its always annoying the back of my mind. The middle of 10th St would be a perfect added parking lane.

Somewhat starting from scratch…

More than 75% of the existing build out was torn back out to reconfigure the space to our specs, which further extended our build time. Ventilation ducting and framing were removed, rerouted, and replaced. We even went so far as to take out the previously newly laid kitchen quarry floor tile so that we could opt for a seamless, groutless kitchen surface. We really hope these little details will extend the longevity of the restaurant operation. Restaurants get so thrashed, and it freaks me out to think this operates 362 days out of the year, and cannot afford to breakdown.

I can fold my paper with no paper cuts!

Does it seem a bit archaic that in today’s age of technology we have to use google earth to measure a 500 foot radius around site before wandering the streets taking down apartment numbers?? Why isn’t there an app for this??

As with any new restaurant that wants to serve alcohol, we are required to draft a letter notifying every resident within 500′ of our location that we would like to serve alcohol. Easy if you’re surrounded by single family homes, and of course its just my luck we’re ensconced amongst a slew of high density apartments buildings. Its like an initiation to serving alcohol. (Fold letter, stick address label, stick return label, stuff envelope, stamp, seal, and send) x 600. What a waste of time and paper!!

Seating Surprise!!

Seating has always been a pain in the ass…pun pun pun… There’s always been good and bad to restaurant seats; Too cold to the touch, too dirty, too weak, too uncomfortable, too heavy, etc… I’m thinking of those super clunky metal 80’s hotel lobby bar looking chairs that you find in a tile floored restaurant which you inevitably have to screech across the floor just to seat yourself. This really was a tough challenge for us, and we think we were able to come up with something really cool which we’ll be able to show you in a few weeks. Here’s a little teaser.

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