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Owner: La Cave's method is tried and true

After nearly 50 years, the Costa Mesa restaurant still remains closed Sundays and for lunches.

November 07, 2011|By Sarah Peters

When La Cave owner Mike Palitz took over from founders William and Carol Boyer more than 10 years ago, he promised them that he would keep to the original formula.

And he did, save for adding broccoli to the Costa Mesa restaurant's menu and more jazz nights.

"I take absolutely no credit for La Cave's success," Palitz said. "The original recipe has always been good people serving good food."

But he did guide La Cave toward its 50th anniversary, which takes place early next year.

The restaurant that opened on Valentine's Day in 1962 does not serve lunch and is still closed on Sundays, in keeping with "community values and Sunday being a family day," Palitz said.

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The simple menu has always focused on steak, but Palitz added vegetable side dishes and shrimp.

He also amped up the entertainment that features a small back lounge, with more nights of jazz music from local entertainers on weekends and indie-rock during the week.

In May, Justin Bieber surprised Los Angeles-based musician Ernie Halter by doing an impromptu duet at the restaurant of the solo songwriter's "Come Home to Me."

"We really wanted to bring the community here from a music standpoint and leave things as they are at the restaurant," Palitz said.

The continuity of the menu and tradition of La Cave is one reason why patrons keep coming back, said Orange County Superior Court Judge Marc Kelly.

"It's like a neighborhood Cheers," Kelly said. "The food is great and service is fantastic."

Kelly and his family had dined at the quiet steakhouse for years, but became regulars after Palitz took over.

Kelly also commended Palitz for his philanthropic work with local schools and youth clubs.

"He is a wonderful person, and I think the community feels the same way," Kelly said. "You want to support a restaurant like that."

Last month, Palitz added a monthly wine society where $12 gets participants multiple tastes and appetizers. The society coincides with the restaurant's 50th.

Palitz is looking into creating a wine, most likely a cabernet, for the event.

The next meeting of the wine society will be Nov. 15. Reservations to the event can be make online at lacaverestaurant.com.

sarah.peters@latimes.com

Twitter: @speters01

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