Welcome to the inaugural edition of "Open for Business," a new Santa Monica Patch series that spotlights new businesses in our city. For the first edition, we focus on Tender Greens, which opened its Santa Monica location (at 201 Arizona Ave.) on Saturday. Executive chef/ co-owner Erik Oberholtzer spoke with Santa Monica Patch about the restaurant's emphasis on serving fresh, organic, local food at an affordable price.
Santa Monica Patch: Why did you decide to open your business in Santa Monica in particular?
Erik Oberholtzer: Santa Monica is where [co-owners] Matt [Lyman], David [Dressler] and I met and came up with the idea of Tender Greens. Santa Monica needed a place like Tender Greens, and our concept is built around that need. Fortunately, other neighborhoods we’ve opened in have shown an appreciation for what Tender Greens has to offer. I live in Santa Monica and feel strongly that we will fill a much-needed void in the community.
Patch: Please provide a brief history of your business.
Oberholtzer: We conceived the idea of Tender Greens while all working at and living in Santa Monica. The idea was to fill the gap between the expensive-restaurant world we worked in and the cheap-restaurant world we could afford. We wanted a third place between work and home to relax, eat the type of food that we prepare at home with ingredients from the , and . We opened the first Tender Greens in Culver City in 2006, and have been busy and growing ever since.
Patch: What makes your business unique?
Oberholtzer: Value and quality. We serve fresh, organic, local food that others charge double for. If we charged more, we wouldn't be special. If we used lesser ingredients, we wouldn't be special. We source our produce and ingredients from organic and local farmers that take pride and care in what they grow and raise. Our chefs are also part of what makes each Tender Greens location special and unique. They create specialty items such as house-made porchetta, headcheese, pickles and jams; slow-cooked ragu and rustic, Northern Italian-style lasagna; and house-cured prosciutto and salumis which are featured as daily specials.
Patch: What contribution(s) do you believe your business will make to the city?
Oberholtzer: Tender Greens makes slow food approachable and affordable. We would like to see everyone migrate away from processed or industrial food and discover fresh farmers market ingredients. We’re able to offer this to our guests at an affordable price and fast. People have less money and time, and when they choose to dine out, they still want to eat well. Tender Greens fills this niche by offering a place to grab a quick and healthy lunch, and a space to relax over a lingering dinner with a glass of beer or wine.
Patch: Why should Santa Monicans frequent your business?
Oberholtzer: We are local, in line with their values and built for them/us. Tender Greens Santa Monica is a great place to relax and enjoy a great meal created by a talented chef at a great price.