It wasn’t love at first sight for Westchester residents Nick Roberts and Brooke Williamson, but there is now love in the kitchen for the successful restaurateurs who own Playa del Rey’s The Tripel and Playa Provisions.
The two met when Roberts worked as Williamson’s Sous Chef in a restaurant in Brentwood. The two often disagreed and stayed out of each other’s ways until one fateful night.
“We didn’t like each other for a solid year,” recalls Roberts. “We were not social when we first met. It all came down to our boss leaving town and Brooke had to close the restaurant by herself and I didn’t want her to be by herself at night. I waited very patiently in the corner the first night. The second night we started talking and by the third night we had started dating.”
Now the two have been married for eight years and have a son, Hudson, who will turn seven this month. They have used their culinary skills to build successful restaurants that are known for tasty cocktails and seasonal seafood fare.
For Roberts and Williamson, the best part about working together is that both have a deep understanding of the time and commitment it takes to run a restaurant. Running their two locations in Playa del Rey and the gastropub, Hudson House in Redondo Beach, they are rarely in the kitchen at the same time these days. They cherish the rare moments where they can work together on menu changes or restaurant specials. For the two chefs, who spend much of their time making sure dishes are perfect and guests are leaving their restaurants satisfied, there is no delineation between home and work life and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Our home life is our work life. That is one of the wonderful things about working together,” says Williamson. “We understand each other’s lives. It’s the understanding of not having to worry about your spouse or worrying when they are coming home from work.”
For now, the two have their sights set on turning the space in the back of The Tripel into a retail shop that will sell cookbooks, kitchen supplies and accessories. The couple hopes to have the shop ready for business in the next few months. Entrepreneurs with a love of food at heart, they are always looking for new space for their next venture.
While working with you spouse and building a restaurant empire isn’t always easy, Roberts is quick to point out the obvious perks of working with your wife.
“I get to work with my best friend,” he says.
Playa Provisions will be serving a four-course dinner for Valentine’s Day. For reservations, please visit their website at playaprovisions.com.
Photo courtesy Playa Provisions
Since opening in November of last year, Ruth’s Chris Steak House has drawn customers from across Southern California looking for a fine dining experience that often includes sizzling steaks served on a 500-degree hot plate, lobster tails and an award-winning wine list. The Marina del Rey eatery is the chain’s newest location and for General Manager Janette Han, who has been with the company for ten years, the setting couldn’t be any better. Its location in the heart of the Marina Marketplace has the restaurant, which is open seven days a week for dinner, drawing regular customers from the new apartment complexes that are located nearby, as well as from surrounding office buildings.
“I love it here. The guests are happy we’re here, but we’re even more so,” said Han. “Everyone has been so welcoming. This is a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other. It’s nice to see our customers out walking around.”
For Han, what sets Ruth’s Chris apart from other steak houses is its focus on the guest experience with a menu that is meant to allow guests to indulge. While it’s hard for her to pinpoint her favorite dish, she enjoys the menu items that are unique to the Marina del Rey location like the Crab Stack, the 40-ounce behemoth Tomahawk Ribeye, Chilled Seafood Tower and the Fire Roasted Corn.
For those looking to catch up with friends or meet with business associates for a bite to eat and a cocktail, she highly recommends the restaurant’s “amazing happy hour.” The eatery’s happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and appetizers like Spicy Lobster, Seared Ahi Tuna and Crab BLT are only $8. If you’re thirsty, Han recommends the Blueberry Mojito or any of the happy hour drinks that are made with fresh hand-squeezed juice.
If you’d like Valentine’s Day weekend reservations, you’d better act soon. According to Han, Valentine’s Day is booked solid, but there are a limited amount of reservations still available (as of press time) for Friday and Sunday. She says the restaurant’s ambiance, including its two patios anchored with outdoor fireplaces and its delicious dishes, will provide the perfect location for couples looking for a romantic evening.
Han hopes to welcome more community members into Ruth’s Chris for a chance to share the enthusiasm she holds for the new location.
“We’re excited to be part of the neighborhood,” said Han. “We are grateful that everyone has been so welcoming. It feels like home here.”
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is open for dinner seven days a week and is located at 13455 Maxella Avenue #230 in Marina del Rey.
Real estate agent Stephanie Younger has traveled all over the world, but her love for Westchester has left her with roots firmly planted in the community and encouraging others to purchase homes in the neighborhood and do the same.
In the thirteen years since Younger has been in real estate, first with Coldwell Banker and now with Teles Properties, a lot of changes have occurred in the once sleepy communities of Westchester and Playa del Rey. With the creation of Playa Vista and the influx of technology-focused businesses relocating nearby, the Silicon Beach moniker attached to the area has created a high demand for homes in the still relatively affordable areas of Westchester and Playa del Rey.
“I think the biggest change I have seen in real estate is that people didn’t want to say that Westchester was part of the Westside,” said Younger. “Now I’ve seen an integration of this community into the Westside, which has been very positive economically. ”
Another change is that people are inquiring about Westchester and Playa del Rey by name, instead of referring to it as the “area around the airport.” Fellow Westsiders looking to move south are making up the majority of people Younger is showing homes to in the community these days and she says the median home price in Westchester is now $825,000 with home prices rising 11% from 2013 to the end of 2014.
While price point, proximity to the freeway and large yards all help sell houses, there is another large factor in why the local real estate market is booming–the unique community feel that is so prevalent in Westchester and Playa del Rey.
“The area is really benefiting from the rise of Silicon Beach. I think it’s changing the way people are looking at the neighborhood,” says Younger. “But that wouldn’t be enough to get people interested in the area, without the heart of the community. You can find comparable parts of L.A., but they don’t have the same community-driven feel. The new people are moving in because they value community and the community feel is just exploding. More and more people know about our ‘little secret.’”
While helping people find the perfect home for their family takes work, her enthusiasm for Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista makes the area an easy sell.
“What I probably love the most about the area is that we’re perched on top of the bluffs and you can ride your bikes and see the ocean all the way to the Hollywood sign on a clear day,” said Younger. “It’s a great way to see the community. It really has a hometown feel in the heart of a big city and I love it here.”
For more info on real estate in the area, visit stephanieyounger.com.