Ellison mystery restaurant set for July opening

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Ellison's mystery restaurant is set to open sometime in July, according to employees.

Life has flooded into Larry Ellison’s latest Carbon Beach restaurant, but the Malibu real estate mogul’s plans remain a mystery with the restaurant’s management keeping mum on the details. 

Last weekend, a new paper sign bearing the restaurant’s apparent name—“Nikita”—appeared on the building’s outer wall, with The Malibu Times receiving reports that the restaurant was open for business. 

Employees said, however, that the restaurant will not open until July and suggested that all current activity is related to staff training. Menus placed near the bar suggest that the weekend’s events included a bar tasting, although employees declined to speak to The Malibu Times, so it is unclear who attended the tasting. 

Employees did not specify an exact opening date. 

The restaurant shares a name with Ellison’s girlfriend, Ukranian actress Nikita Kahn, but staff members declined to discuss whether the restaurant was named for Kahn. 

“I don’t know. I’m not allowed to know,” said one employee. 

The manager and media relations representative also declined interview requests. 

Nikita is located just steps from Ellison’s upscale sushi restaurant, Nobu. The buildings share a usually crowded parking lot on the Pacific Coast Highway. The interiors of both buildings were designed by Studio PCH co-owner Severine Tatangelo. The restaurant features an abundance of windows and open-air seating overlooking the ocean. 

Tatangelo told The Malibu Times in March that the restaurant would serve Mediterranean-themed food. The menu from the bar tasting included Caesar and lobster salads, Kobe beef and a variety of seafood. 

The site was once home to PierView Restaurant and Cantina, which closed in 2003. Rumors about which restaurant would move into the posh new site have been swirling around Malibu for months, but details have proved elusive. 

Renowned chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck surfaced as one of the rumored candidates, but Tatangelo told The Malibu Times in March that Puck would not be moving in. 

Eater LA reported last month that Nikita had tapped Italian chef Massimiliano Blasone to head up the kitchen, and Greg Seider, from New York’s The Summit Bar, to craft the restaurant’s cocktail menu. 

The hiring of Blasone and Seider came a few months after other mysteries surrounding the restaurant slowly began to emerge. The Malibu Planning Commission approved an amended conditional use permit (CUP) for the building to operate during breakfast hours (opening at 7 a.m.), despite not knowing the tenant for the building. 

“There’s no tenant, but they want hours for breakfast,” Planning Commission chair John Mazza said before casting the sole vote against the CUP in a 4-1 decision. 

Tatangelo was the sole representative for the restaurant site when it applied for breakfast hours before the Planning Commission. The owner on the permit application is listed as “Malibu Cantina, LLC.” 

“I don’t exactly know what it’s going to be,” she said. “I believe [the owner] wants to do a Mediterranean/Italian restaurant.” 

She added that the owner hoped to have a tenant in place by “late May.” 

The restaurant already has a permit to begin selling alcohol on site after 11 a.m. and to stay open as late as 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on weekends— just feet away from Nobu. 

With valet parking required after 11 a.m., the unnamed restaurant would have up to 74 valet spaces and approximately 50 spaces during self-parking hours before 11 a.m. Tatangelo said owners are exploring off-site valet parking for the peak season when the nighttime crowd could overlap with Nobu’s popularity. 

After neighbors who live next to Nobu complained that its workers were making too much noise at night when taking out the trash, Planning Director Joyce Parker-Bozylinski said an 8 a.m. trash disposal provision was added into the unnamed restaurant’s permit to prevent future noise conflicts. 

Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, also owns the Casa Malibu Inn motel, Nikita’s neighbor to the other side. He reportedly owns 10 separate beachfront properties in Carbon Beach, in addition to the Malibu Racquet Club and several other properties throughout the city.