New owner, new name for Monroe’s restaurant


Monroe’s Restaurant on Westward Beach Road recently changed owners, and to avoid any complications from the estate of Marilyn Monroe, its name has been changed as well. After a short renovation, the restaurant will reopen late August under its new name, The Gray Whale.

Thomas Averna, the new owner, worked for many years as a waiter at Monroe’s and at the other restaurants that occupied the site. He bought the eatery from his sister and brother-in-law, former Malibu residents Donna and Richard Chesterfield.

“I finally saved up enough money to buy the place,” he said.

The restaurant’s previous name, and the photos of the legendary actress that adorned its walls, regularly brought assertions from representatives of the estate of Marilyn Monroe that the restaurant lacked the licensing rights to use the Monroe name. Averna said that Chesterfield defended the name choice by saying he had a relative from his native Great Britain with the Monroe name.

“Richard would always get calls from the estate of Marilyn Monroe,” said Averna. “He would always say he was related to a Welsh tenor named Sam Monroe.”

Because Averna can claim no relation, he changed the restaurant’s name. He also promises new paint and carpeting, and a few changes to the menu.

“But, it will still be fine dining,” he said.