Chez Jay is an iconic dining destination in Santa Monica and an officially established local landmark — not to mention, the location of our latest nautical style story. Since 1959, it’s been a storied spot for seafood, sandwiches, and scene-spotting, where all the tales are tall, but true!
The fun started on day one, when owner Jay Fiondella brought in showgirls and a circus elephant for the grand opening of this divey joint. The elephant is said to have dented the bar, and that dent remains to this very day as proof of the pachyderm party guest.
Check out these pics of Chez Jay from back in the day:
Fiondella himself was quite the character. In addition to being a charismatic restaurant owner, he was also an aspiring actor and a hot air balloon enthusiast. Cosmopolitan even named him “Bachelor of the Month” in 1970. He kept the tradition of serving peanuts at the bar and letting the shells fall where they may. It’s said that a peanut shell from Chez Jay even traveled into outer space in an astronaut’s film case! Legendary names and faces were regulars and pals with Fiondella, including members of the Rat Pack and the Beach Boys, as well as Hollywood elite actors like Steve McQueen, Judy Garland, and Clint Eastwood — they liked the unglamorous appeal of Chez Jay as a getaway from the cameras and crowds.
The divey decor speaks mostly of seaside pub, with hints of Hollywood. This shot was taken at our photo shoot!
It’s only natural that we chose Chez Jay as the setting for our latest photo shoot, which is about nodding to classic nautical trends in a fresh new way. Take a look at some of the fun we had in and around this sunny Santa Monica spot:
To this day, Chez Jay’s reputation makes it a must-see stop for all who pine for a peek at one of the magical places full of LA legends and lore.
+What’s your town’s quirky local hangout?