On October 8, 2012, the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to landmark Chez Jay.
As a designated local landmark, proposed modifications to the building will need to be reviewed and approved by the Landmarks Commission. This allows the City to make sure any modifications are sensitive to the building's architecture, respect its cultural significance, and retain its eligibility as a local landmark.
In 1999, the Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency purchased Chez Jay and adjacent land for use in its Civic Center Specific Plan and Palisades Garden Walk (now Tongva Park).
The plan is now under way and Tongva Park opened in the fall of 2013. The restaurant operates under a lease agreement with the City, currently on a month-to-month term. The redevelopment plans for the nearby park call for “pavilion-like structures” that include both indoor and outdoor spaces.
While beloved by longtime patrons, Chez Jay does not offer outdoor seating or take-out service that would accommodate plans for the park. The City had asked interested parties, including the current operators, to respond to a Request for Proposals for how best to remodel or reconstruct the restaurant to address these issues.
Without the protections offered by local landmark designation, many were concerned that a Chez Jay might lose its authentic character through a potential remodel.
The Conservancy believes that Chez Jay is architecturally and culturally significant as a postwar vernacular restaurant structure, adapted with a nautical theme through its conversion to Chez Jay in 1959, its association with operator and noted Santa Monica personality Jay Fiondella, and the restaurant’s longtime association with a range of clientele including celebrities, politicians, artists, locals, and tourists.