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Venerable Restaurant Making 'Big Changes'

"The 'new' Michael's will feature a best-of-the- best 'new menu,' re-priced to compete with the most successful of our immediate competition."

Michael McCarty, one of the chefs who introduced diners to high-end California cuisine, is "reinventing" his venerable Santa Monica restaurant as a "modern-day, moderately priced American/California brasserie" and courting investors.

"My intention is to get 150 great local investors, each who purchase just one and only one share at $10,000," McCarty said in a letter emailed today to supporters and longtime customers of the Third Street eatery he opened 33 years ago, at the age of 25.

"You will be my core group who will use Michael's as your go-to spot for all your business and personal dining needs," he wrote in the email obtained by City News Service.

The eatery "will continue our world-renowned reputation of farm-to- table, sustainable, tasty, impeccably cooked New American food, with great service, all set in our wonderful garden setting surrounded by impeccable contemporary art. But we are making changes... big changes!," he wrote. First off, he said, "to combat the perception of being an expensive, special-occasion restaurant, the 'new' Michael's will feature a best-of-the- best 'new menu,' re-priced to compete with the most successful of our immediate competition."

The popular garden "will be physically reconfigured and re-landscaped with the addition of new tables and chairs to maximize seating" capacity, which will go from 70 to 125, according to McCarty, who has also operated a second Michael's restaurant in midtown Manhattan since 1989.

Other plans include a "substantial expansion" of the bar area with additional seating plus two 10-seat communal tables; a private membership-only club to be located upstairs, featuring its own mixology bar, private rooms and a new outdoor deck; and refurbishment of the entire interior and exterior.

McCarty said his plan is to issue and sell Class B Limited Partnership interests to raise the capital needed for the redesign and operating expenses.

Another iconic Los Angeles-area eatery, Spago, is also getting a facelift. Wolfgang Puck's flagship eatery in Beverly Hills closed in July for a major cosmetic and menu overhaul and is expected to reopen sometime in October.

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