Santa Monica Lookout
|Original Border Grill in Santa Monica to Close||
| By Niki Cervantes|
August 31, 2016 -- The time has come to raise a glass (or maybe a tequila shot) and say “hasta luego” to the Border Grill on 4th Street in Santa Monica, the festive Mexican restaurant that helped put the city on the nation’s food map with popular TV cooking shows and helped transform downtown into a “foodie’s playground.”
After more than 26 years on 4th Street, the original of several Border Grill restaurants is closing in mid-October, the owners and celebrity chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, announced Monday.
With the restaurant’s lease ending, Miliken and Feniger said they will begin “a new chapter in the neighborhood,” culinary style.
No start date or other details of the new venture are yet available.
In the meantime, the Border Grill locations in Downtown Los Angeles, The Forum Shops and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, LAX Airport, and the Border Grill Trucks will remain operating as usual, the owners said.
“We have a million wonderful memories,” the two owners said in a statement. “With a sentimental and nostalgic nod, we are deeply grateful to all of our employees -- without whom we never could have operated for so long, the many guests we have had the pleasure of serving through the years and of course, the forward-thinking city of Santa Monica.”
Downtown Santa Monica officials said they are sad to see the location close but happy that two chefs won’t venture far.
Downtown’s Border Grill helped “set the stage for the District’s growth as a foodie’s playground,” said Kevin Herrera of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., which oversees the beach city's central business district.
“While we are saddened by the news that one of our favorite Mexican restaurants will be closing, we are pleased to know that Mary Sue and Susan will be opening a new and exciting concept in Santa Monica soon and we look forward to seeing what these two talented chefs are cooking up,” he said.
The 4th Street Border Grill’s fame comes from many sources.
Miliken and Feniger starred in the Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” cooking show. Many episodes were filmed at the 4th street Border Grill, capturing its colorful and zanily chic “urban cantina” design.
The owners also appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” and pitched the idea of a food-lovers show to KCRW, giving birth the radio station’s “Good Food Show.” They also write cookbooks.
And then there is the “modern Mexican” menu, which offers not only tacos but tacos filled with grilled pineapple, chicken or pork, pickled onions and jicama orange salsa during bunch, to say nothing of the Baja Ceviche Tostadita, marinated in lime and considered “sustainable” -- a special bragging right.
“By our most recent calculation, we’ve handmade more than 9 million tortillas on the comal in the window, mashed over 500 tons of avocados for guacamole and poured over 325,000 bottles of tequila -- and counting,” the owners said in their statement.
They also want to keep the restaurant lively in its final months. There will be much reminiscing, they said, and diners should stay tuned for “throwback menu items and pricing, resurrecting fan favorite dishes and a big final fiesta to relive that memorable conga line.”
The conga line is another claim to fame for the restaurant and dates back to a spontaneous, margarita-fueled conga line that snaked through Santa Monica’s Border Grill during its opening night party in 1990, the owners recollected.
But, since what happens in the 4th Border Grill stays in the 4th Street Border Grill, no additional details were offered.
“It’s time for a new adventure,” the owners said.
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