STUDIO CITY, Calif. — As Los Angeles County has moved into the yellow tier, many restaurants are starting to bounce back.
But for some, there's still an important piece of the puzzle missing: music.
What You Need To Know
- Vitello’s was established in 1964 by Sal Vitello, a baker from New York
- The restaurant later changed ownership and became a popular hangout for locals and celebrities such as the Rat Pack
- Many restaurants have been bouncing back, but live music is still prohibited until the county moves out of the color-coded tier system in June
- Feinstein’s at Vitello’s is normally a 120-seat venue but, upon reopening, will host around 30 people for live music
At Vitello’s Restaurant in Studio City, business was booming for Mother’s Day, but the upstairs music venue remained empty while being prepped for reopening just around the corner — once the region moves out of the color-coded tier system, projected for June.
Brad Roen, Vitello’s longtime managing partner noted that Mother’s Day was fully booked, and with their supplemental outdoor seating areas, they planned to be busy.
“Mother's Day eve, we had the single busiest night we've had in eight years, day and night,” he said.
Roen explained how this came after a brutal year for the business, which — like many — expanded outside eating areas to compensate for lower indoor capacities.
“People have shown that they are ready to come out that they are ready to be in the public,” he said. “My philosophy is that if we don't pack them in, and we create a safe environment, then they'll come back.”
In the past, some 40% of Vitello’s overall business has come from the live music attractions in their 120-seat supper club upstairs. Over the years, the venue has hosted performers like Liza Minnelli and regular Michael Feinstein — where the venue gets its name — after Roen formed a connection with the popular performer.
“We have been prohibited from any live music,” said Roen. “But that's changing. So we are now prepping the room, cleaned it, shampooed carpets, polished everything.”
The county’s more relaxed yellow tier guidelines have been good for many businesses reopening, but Roen noted that Vitello’s won't hit its full stride until the nightclub performances can begin again safely, and that regular customers are already yearning for the music.
"We have people that used to come here four nights a week for whatever show," he said. "We have people that came for every Michael [Feinstein] show, every John Lloyd Young show. I mean, this is their place. This is their home.” In the meantime, the space has been set up for streaming concerts."
Despite the laxer yellow tier, Roen added that Vitello’s is still going to play it safe for a while.
“Vaccinated, that doesn't matter,” he said. “We should all be wearing a mask, and we actually just posted this sign today to make sure that people do that.”
The Vitello’s team prepared for Mother's Day as if going into battle, so that guests could just relax and enjoy themselves after the last year.
“And really the only thing we needed for the last year was music,” Roen said. “It just makes us feel like it's gonna be okay.”
If all goes to plan, Vitello’s will make its return to live music sometime in July.