Ranch & Coast Magazine

August 2023

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for which it was ultimately named, in fact — also returned. Shoemaker confirms that yes, the work, e Whale's Last Stand by Wing Howard, will be there, but not exactly as it once hung. When its removal in 2013 proved challenging, it was divided into sections and thus, no longer a single piece, will find new glory as a triptych in its reprise. ough this particular change was necessary, the modification is in line with the broader vision for an updated Whaling Bar that blends old and new. "e space is different. It's not going to be identical. We think of it as a new iteration in honor of the history of this beloved bar," says Shoemaker. Another unique twist is the onboarding of restaurant group SDCM, whose collection includes a spectrum of establishments throughout the county from the edgy donut shop Devil's Dozen to downtown destination Kettner Exchange to Cardiff 's acclaimed Waverly, to manage daily operations at the Whaling Bar. Shoemaker says the decision to tap SDCM stemmed from anticipation that this will be a high volume concept that a seasoned third party could assist with and help to meet the site's lofty goals and expectations, both internal and external. It's a sensitive endeavor, but SDCM Owner/Operator Matt Spencer is up to the task. "SDCM has a deep respect for the history of the Whaling Bar, the La Valencia team, and the locals who have supported the establishment over the years," he says. "We're taking careful consideration and working closely with Summer [Shoemaker] at La Valencia to review past surveys and menus dating back decades to honor and preserve favorite items while complementing older menus with updated twists." Brian Redzikowski, SDCM's executive chef and managing partner, also embraces the role with eyes wide open. "Being part of the historic hotel is exciting for us," he says, adding sagely, "I think we go in not trying to reinvent the wheel." Redzikowski has equal enthusiasm for expanding his repertoire to align with La Valencia's Mediterranean DNA, noting that he'll lean into Basque flavors that pull from Southern France and Northern Spain influences as well. e desired result? "Keep the cuisine simple and classic, using as much local and sustainable product possible," he says. Seasoned pro Eric Johnson, SDCM's beverage director, will showcase his expertise in crafting the Whaling Bar's cocktail menu. ose eagerly anticipating Whaling Bar's renaissance will have to wait just a bit longer, however. Plans for a grand reopening are projected for year's end. But, while no festivities are firmly in place as of yet, Shoemaker is already guessing there'll be a need for far more than just one event to accommodate the devoted legions of fans who, undoubtedly, can't wait to resume their love affair with the Whaling Bar. lavalencia.com HISTORICAL PHOTOS: COURTESY OF LA VALENCIA HOTEL Mid-century-era images capture the timeless glory of La Valencia and its beloved Whaling Bar, including its famed booths, while an ad campaign slogan encapsulates its position as the neighborhood hotspot @ranchandcoast RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE AUGUST 2023 73

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