Hollywood-Loved Restaurateur Unveils Greek Eatery, Kassi Club
Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon and Cindy Crawford are frequent diners at Nick Mathers' Elephante and Eveleigh restaurants.
Fresh off the debut of buzzy Westside rooftop haunt Élephante, restaurateur and interior designer Nick Mathers is cooking up something new in a familiar L.A. space. His latest endeavor is Kassi Club, which will serve up a menu of Mediterranean island-flavored cuisine and cocktails in a chic Greece-inspired lounge on West Third Street starting Tuesday, June 18.
Kassi (pronounced Kah-zie) is taking over Goldie’s, Mathers' farm-to-table cafe that enjoyed a five-year run on West Third Street. The new restaurant takes its name and atmosphere from Kastellorizo, a Greek island near the coast of Turkey. Mathers tells The Hollywood Reporter that the concept was born while vacationing in yet another coastal getaway: “I was away with a bunch of friends of mine — a lot of them are Greek — in Uruguay, of all places. We were in Jose Ignacio, a beautiful little beach town, sitting around eating and drinking. I was like, ‘There's no good Greek food. We should do a little Greek restaurant.’ It was a drunken conversation but it's sort of come into fruition.”
Mathers’ other stylish establishments under his Wish You Were Here portfolio — which counts Steve Aoki as an investor — include L.A. eateries such as the recently opened Élephante, Eveleigh (which often plays host to starry gatherings) and Little Ruby, all of which attract regulars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, Cindy Crawford, Dustin Hoffman, Aaron Paul and Alessandra Ambrosio, to name a few. With Kassi Club, he’s aiming for the weekend brunch crowd — likely to include local creatives, executives from nearby studios as well as average passersby — that was missing at Goldie’s.
“Coming from New York, I had a lot of really busy lunch spaces that go into the night,” says Mathers, who opened Goldie’s five years ago. “I was kind of new to L.A. [People] were convincing me that it was such a busy street, and I was like, ‘Cool, I don't know if I get it.’ The nights were always packed, but I said, ‘Why does no one come for lunch?’ Well, it's $12 to park your car and your salads are $12. I didn't know about parking in L.A.”
He took note of the beachside tavernas that he frequented in Greece, where he’s jet-setted to over the past 14 years. Like his other properties, Mathers also designed Kassi’s intimate interiors, swapping out Goldie’s slatted wood walls and marble countertops for stucco, surfaces made of stone from Ithaca, and oak flooring. Rounding out the stylish interiors are rattan ceilings (lined with LED lighting), woven fiber wall decor, ceramic accents and leather and wood seating custom-designed by Mathers. (He also designed Jimmy Kimmel’s L.A. home.)
The eatery will debut with dinner through midnight on weekdays, brunch to late dinner Saturdays and brunch to dinner until 10 p.m. Sundays. Helming the “fresh and clean” land and sea menu (which professes to be “neither Greek nor Australian”) is Mathers’ frequent collaborator, executive chef Thomas Lim, who’s also behind Elephante and was previously at Goldie’s. "The menu for Kassi Club was inspired by my travels. We encourage a European format of dining, where the focus is not just about technique, but about using beautiful, fresh produce," Lim tells THR.
"A lot of Greek concepts within the United States are very traditional and protein heavy, we wanted to incorporate other aspects of Mediterranean dining such as seafood, salads and lighter fare that is rustic and sustainable," says Lim. On the menu are woodfire-grilled mains including prawns served with malloreddus pasta and tomato water, chicken smothered in harissa honey, octopus paired with radish and beet salad and New York steak with herb butter ($22 to $40). Lighter fare includes peach and buckwheat salad mixed with feta, mint and lemon-balsamic dressing; grilled watermelon salad with whipped goats curd and chili basil seed vinaigrette; and a classic goddess salad served with green tahini ($12 to $14).
Cocktail offerings ($14 to $17) were designed by bar director Julien Calella (also of Élephante). Expect a signature drink of tequila and tsikoudia splashed with watermelon, pineapple and lime as well as the Aphrodite's Pearl (gin, Lillet Blanc, ouzo, concord grape and lemon), the Kalypso (scotch, lemon, green mountain tea and honey) and the Athens Spritz (Tito's vodka, Lillet Blanc, St. Germain Elderflower, sparkling wine, ginger and lemon).
Mathers envisions a come-one, come-all atmosphere, and an Aussie attitude is part of that approach. “It’s never been [solely] about the food. It's about the whole experience, and that's the difference. We've never really pushed the culinary thing because it's just this whole team effort,” Mathers tells THR. “It’s really the most Australian thing [to be] really friendly and welcoming. Everyone says hello to everyone. It’s why I’m instilling in my staff that you talk to the owner or the chef as you would the dishwasher; there's no segregation and that comes across to the customers as well. You just have to be lovely to everyone.”
Lim adds: "We want guests to enjoy their food together, amongst family and friends, by sharing plates and experiencing the menu as a group. We like to keep synergy across all of our restaurants, so that the food, cocktails and design create an uncomplicated, effective space where you can come in and enjoy everything from a late night drink with friends to brunch to a family dinner. Kassi won't replicate Greece, but will instill the vibe of a relaxed European holiday in Los Angeles."
Up next from Mathers are two new eateries in New York. His group is doubling the size of Lower East Side restaurant Dudley's, while Ruby's Cafe will "be their biggest Ruby's to date and will replace one of [restaurateur] Danny Meyers' spaces near Astor Place," says Mathers.
Kassi Club, 8422 West 3rd St., Los Angeles; Monday through Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; for reservations, 323-545-6743; kassisclub.com