Chez Jay opened in 1959 as a nautical-themed bar/steak house on a small scale, with room for only about ten tables.
It was made famous for its fifty-year association with adventurer and raconteur Jay Fiondella and for its legacy as a combination dive bar and celebrity hangout during the same period. It quickly became a popular spot for celebrities, as longtime owner Fiondella banned cameras and autograph seekers.
Chez Jay operated for many years on Jay’s behalf by his widowed mother (who died in 1991) and, since the late 1970s, by co-owner Michael Anderson. Under Anderson’s management and co-ownership with Jay’s daughter, Anita Fiondella Eck, it continues to serve as an important anchor of Santa Monica’s history.