Q & A with Rose Cafe Partner, Manhar Patel
What were you trying to create when you started the Rose Cafe back in 1979?
We had been living in the Venice area for about 8 years and felt that there was no place where local people could come together in an informal enviornment and enjoy good food. We had been inspired by coffeehouses in Paris and we were one of the first restaurants in the area to serve freshly baked croissants and real coffee.
This is a unique building. What purpose did it serve before it became a restaurant?
It used to be an old Gas Company dispatch office. It had metal shutters, broken windows and was abandoned. We had to remove 18 tons of construction material to open it all up. We took out a dropped ceiling to expose the industrial steel trusses and a wooden ceiling. We immediately realized that the space that resulted had a gallery-like atmosphere. And being in a community of artists, we began displaying their work.
How would you characterize your philosophy about food?
It has to taste good, look good, and be prepared in a healthy way. No artifical colors or flavors. And we believe this can be achieved at a good value for our customers.
What aspects of the Rose do you fear customers may miss?
I'm not sure how many people realize that we run our own bakery and do some pretty incredible specialty cakes. Also, I think some customers come in and get food over the counter, but they don't realize that we also have a full service restaurant with some great entrees.
What's new at the Rose?
Well, we're excited about opening up for dinners again soon. Our new chef, David Wolfe, who has been with us for 2 years now, has been a great asset for us. He is very creative and enjoys using seasonal fresh vegetables from local farmers' markets. My partner, Kamal Kapur, always challenges David to introduce new dishes and refine them to perfection!
You must have had some notable customers over the years. Anyone come to mind?
Since we're just down the street from Gold's Gym, we have had a number of famous atheletes stop by. Schwarzenegger was a regular for many years. More recently, the Klitschko brothers have been coming in after their morning workout for our oatmeal bowl. In fact, they were recently interviewed here by Dan Rather for a 60 minutes piece.
Any other anecdotes?
We just finished building a large structure to cover our dining room patio. We are really happy with how it turned out, and have been getting positive feedback from our customers. One morning Frank Gehry was in and I asked him if he liked it. After thinking about it a moment he told me that he would have designed it "differently".