Los Angeles' a.o.c. Restaurant Opens in the Old Orso Space

A.O.C Exterior - H 2013
Aaron Cook, AACK Studio

A.O.C Exterior - H 2013

The 10-year-old L.A. mainstay, owned by renowned restaurateurs Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne, is taking over the space -- and the famed patio -- previously occupied by Orso and il Covo.

Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's a.o.c. at W. 3rd Street and Crescent Heights -- one of the go-to restaurants for the entertainment community -- has a new home further west near Beverly Hills (8700 W. 3rd Street) occupying the space where Il Covo operated most recently and before that Orso, a spot famed for its power lunches on the patio.

a.o.c., which introduced tapas and wine-by-the-glass to L.A. in a serious way, has been a staple since 2002 and held its official re-opening at its new location Wednesday. Styne spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the transition and how they plan to bring new life to an old lunch spot favorite.

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THR: When did the decision to move a.o.c. come about, and why that new location specifically?

Styne: We were contemplating a big change, a big remodel, something to give it a new energy. And right at that moment, my former employer Sean MacPherson (of il Covo) was contemplating leasing out his old space. He approached me in May, and by the end of summer we decided that, yes, we're definitely going to do this. We officially took over the space in December. I went crazy because I am so attached to this building. I grew up with this building; I ate at Orso with my mom. I could not resist when this was brought up to us. It was fantastic timing.

THR: How familiar were you with the old Orso space?

Styne: Very familiar. I've visited the space countless times in my life, and I've eaten on that patio so many times. I knew every nook and cranny of it. We worked with Claire Stansfield to create an earthy, slightly edgy quality to it.

THR: How else did you transform the space from the look of il Covo?

Styne: That was a dark, moody restaurant. We wanted to bring back the light, airy quality of Orso. We lightened up the space with light seige and highlights of black and grayed oak wood. The room used to be divided between the bar and dining room, but we opened that up and put in a long communal bar top table. It's a much more lively, communal feeling. We also repainted the building completely bringing back a soft, Mediterranean white. We also planted two new trees in the patio to replace the old one that people loved. The entire space is about 1,000 square feet larger. That enormous patio seats about 70.

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THR: How excited are your regulars about the move?

Styne: Everybody seems to be very excited. I love the central location. It's more accessible for a wide range of people. They're especially excited about the patio.

THR: Has the menu changed at all? What about lunch, since a.o.c. was exclusively for dinner?

Styne: We are going to start with dinner only for the first two weeks to get up and operating, then opening up to lunch and dinner daily. We have a great lunch menu -- not small plates at lunch. There are salads, burgers, cheese plates. It's definitely a very flexible lunch menu, reasonably priced. It's comfortable.

THR: Any other projects on the horizon?

Styne: The Larder at the new 8500 Burton Way building built by Rick Caruso will open in the first week of April. We're also opening The Larder at the Tom Bradley terminal in LAX. Then we're opening a new restaurant in Montecito in late summer.