KEEPING UP WITH JONES

Byline: Michael Marlow

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--If you want to see how times have changed in Los Angeles, take a look at Jones, the new restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Compare it with The Olive, the last major restaurant opened by Jones's Sean MacPherson and Jon Sidel (the husband of Rosanna Arquette). When L.A.'s coolest restaurateurs opened The Olive on Fairfax Avenue in 1990, the telephone number was unlisted and there was no sign out front. There wasn't even a hint that a restaurant existed inside. Getting a seat in The Olive challenged even the best-connected.
Four years later, along comes Jones. Not only is the number listed, there are two numbers: one that plays a recorded message with information about hours, and a reservation number answered by a live person.
There is a sign outside, but not just any sign. It spells out "J-O-N-E-S" with incandescent bulbs like the old-time markers on the side of a highway. The sign caused such a ruckus in West Hollywood that the restaurant got it approved only by classifying it as historical. Actually, in L.A. urban myth, it is: Jones is on the site of the old Ports, a bar/restaurant that welcomed every rock 'n' roller who rolled through L.A. in the Seventies and Eighties.
The high contrast between The Olive and the new place is not lost on MacPherson, who's quick to point out that Jones is really a "populist restaurant. In the Eighties, elitism was popular, which we were a part of--no signs, no listed number," MacPherson admits. "But this is the Nineties, and everyone's welcome here, all sorts of people rubbing shoulders. Being super exclusive and quiet is so passé."
Even with the reservation number, a table at Jones is not easy to score. Since opening several weeks ago, the place has been jammed with some of the same crowd that frequent MacPherson and Sidel's other hangouts, including Small's K.O., a bar on Melrose Avenue, and Swinger's, a coffee shop on Beverly Boulevard that's practically home to Sofia Coppola, Keanu Reeves and the still-grungey set.
Already, Robert De Niro, Madonna and Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis have been spotted at Jones for dinner.
The restaurant is dominated by a dimly lit room, with rich dark woods, burgundy tiles and exposed brick on the walls. Tables are arranged in a sunken area and around the bar, which features a well-lit row of Jack Daniels bottles hanging overhead. Red and white checked tablecloths are on each table. The restaurant has a warm, clubby feel, especially as the night wears on and the room gets noisier.
"We wanted to create a very chic rock 'n' roll restaurant," says Sidel. "It's about pizza and socializing."
The most popular items on the menu so far are the pizzas and New York steaks. They're often washed down with the Jones Julep: Jack Daniels, sugar and fresh mint.
A more casual pizza cafe next to the restaurant, to be called Jones Cafe, will open for lunch soon and will be used for the main restaurant's overflow at night.

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