10 Los Angeles Area Venues for Company Picnics and Summer Entertaining

By Alesandra Dubin May 17, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

Photo: Ramon C Purcell Photography

Summer is on its way, which means it's time to start entertaining interns, summer associates, clients, and corporate groups. Check out Los Angeles’s new bars, restaurants, hotels, and outdoor and fresh-air-friendly venues for corporate picnics, company gatherings, and other types of summer entertaining.

1. April marked the return of the Malibu Inn beachside restaurant, bar, and live entertainment venue, under the ownership of brothers Alex and Steven Hakim. Industry vets Kelley Jones and Frank Tucker are the managing partners behind the revival. Angelo Sosa collaborated on crafting an American menu, and designer Andrew Alford is behind the interior. The venue serves lunch, dinner, and late bites from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

2. Manhattan Beach Post, commonly known as M.B. Post, opened its doors in April. The space comes from chef and co-owner David LeFevre, with an artisan menu of shared plates, along with specialty cocktails and beers and wines. The venue takes over the former post office, steps from the ocean. The 3,200-square-foot restaurant holds about 100 guests in the bar and dining room, a combination of booths and communal and individual tables.

3. A new addition to Culver City's ever-growing drinking and dining scene is City Tavern, which opened in April. There is no private room, but the restaurant seats 80 inside and has 30 patio seats, for a total capacity of 110. The patio has rustic wood tables and chairs and a cafeteria-style table. Inside, there are three table-side beer taps, from which guests can serve themselves. City Tavern is the first California-state approved venue to offer booths equipped with the computerized draft beer systems.

4. The new Fig & Olive on Melrose Place offers cuisine from the south of France, Italy, and Spain. It's the first West Coast outpost for the restaurant group, which also has existing venues by the same name in New York City and Westchester, New York. The venue occupies a split-level, 8,000-square-foot open space, with a variety of indoor and outdoor seating options for as many as 300 guests.

5. Patina Restaurant Group opened Ray’s Restaurant and Stark Bar next to the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the new restaurant is named after Ray Stark, the late film producer and former Lacma trustee. The outdoor Stark Bar is comprised of a long bar, a lounge area, and table seating. Ray’s and Stark Bar have midcentury-inspired furniture in keeping with Piano’s design, and a total seating capacity of just over 150.

6. For a breezy feel, the Jamaica Bay Inn opened in Marina del Rey in November, with a design meant to evoke a colorful and relaxed island resort, complete with lush landscaping, beachside pool, and marina views. Off the lobby, the Antigua Room holds 75 people for a reception or 50 seated. It has views and access to the terrace garden and the marina. The Barbados Boardroom has flat-panel monitors, leather executive chairs, and a dark wood conference table. Additionally, a spacious manicured garden lawn can accommodate small events with a beach backdrop.

7. Contributing to the roster of event- and entertaining-appropriate restaurants in the new Santa Monica Place mall is Zengo. Chef Richard Sandoval and business partner Plácido Domingo opened the venue, which serves Latin-Asian cuisine. The space holds about 350 for a reception. A patio holds 64 for seated events or 80 for a reception. And a private dining room has room for six for a seated event, or 15 for cocktails. 

8. The An Catering family has opened a new restaurant in Santa Monica, known as Tiato. Helene An is the chef, and the restaurant bills its cuisine as “healthy new American with a twist of indulgence.” Tiato is open for breakfast, lunch, and happy hour, plus events and catering. There are beer, wine, and sake at the bar—with an emphasis on sustainable and organic offerings—as well as Asian tapas. Tiato seats 200 inside the 2,414-square-foot café and 300 in the 4,300-square-foot garden.

9. Last summer, Universal Studios reopened a new and improved New York Street after a fire, this time with distinctive neighborhoods carved out of its four acres. The generic old city streets have been transformed into urban areas resembling Chinatown, Little Italy, Central Park, Wall Street, the West Village, the Broadway theater district, Park Avenue, Embassy Row, London, Paris, and 21st-century New York, with contemporary glass-and-steel buildings. To make the areas feel more like a big city, facade heights have been increased by 10 to 25 feet, to new heights of 40 to 50 feet.

10. To stick close to the beach, try Suite 700 at Santa Monica's 71-room Hotel Shangri-La. The rooftop bar and lounge from nightlife entrepreneur and designer Marc Smith (whose work also includes the Edison) has a Nautical Moderne design with unobstructed views of the ocean. Terraces offer plush lounge seating and fire pits. Inside, gray flannel covers the walls, and there are etched mirrors, large windows, and a dramatic scalloped fireplace. The space is available for buyout, with room for about 75.

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