Back in the day, Dear John’s was known for two things: its to-die-for New York strip steak, and frequent guest Frank Sinatra.
Chefs Hans Rockenwagner and Josiah Citrin have restored the Culver City, California, restaurant to its glory days, but with a catch: The building is slated for demolition on April 1, 2021, to make way for new development.
Dear John’s was the place to be in Hollywood in the 1960s, after actor (and Sinatra drinking buddy) Johnny Harlow opened it in ‘62. The eatery was abandoned a few years ago — after a last-ditch effort to restore it on reality TV — and recently housed a dinner spot called Lucky’s.
For Dear John’s swan song, the chefs renovated the place with art from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and the cocktails sport names like the “Hemingway” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”
The place has a raft of new celebrity supporters in place of former regulars like Barbra Streisand and Gregg Allman: Jamie Lee Curtis, Jodie Foster, Christopher Guest, and Jennifer Grey were among the celebrities who came out for its re-opening on Tuesday. (Curtis even recorded the restaurant’s new voicemail message.)
Dear John’s expects to see plenty more star sightings over the next couple of years.
Focusing on the classics, chefs Rockenwagner and Citrin want to lean into the glamorous yet simple nostalgia of the menu and decor. “We’re not trying to do food that is mixing cultures and flavors. We’re just going back to the classic American food, but then using great California produce and meat,” according to Rockenwagner.
As for musical acts? Nothing’s on the books yet, but the restaurant does have a piano and microphone ready to go. Sinatra impersonators, this might be your (last) chance.