By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
The British are coming—and this time, they are bringing Pimm’s and Shepherd’s Pie.
Matt and Marissa Hermer, Anglo-Palisadian restaurateurs famed in London for trend-setting food and royal hospitality, are setting up their first Californian restaurant—and it will be the flagship eatery in the Palisades Village project.
The 200-seat restaurant, the largest in the project, will be called The Draycott after the couple’s previous home street in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.
It will be sited on the project’s park next to Elyse Walker towne and close to Jennifer Meyer’s jewelry store, the couple told the Palisadian-Post last week.
An outdoor patio will provide space to offer picnics in the park, as well as a specialty kid menu, culinary showcases and afternoon music classes.
It will be a brasserie menu, with dishes changing from breakfast through lunch to dinner cocktails. There will be a Bloody Mary trolley at weekends.
The Draycott will be one of eight businesses in the project with a liquor license.
The couple moved from London to The Riviera with their three young children in December 2016.
They considered opening a bar or restaurant in Beverly Hills or West Hollywood.
But then they met Rick Caruso at a social event, and the couple was won over by the opportunity of a fresh frontier in the Palisades.
The former Marissa Anschutz feels like a classic Californian mom, she told the Palisadian-Post, and she has known the Palisades for years: Her godmother, Kim Cleary, lives here.
Marissa is from Orange County, the daughter of a piano teacher and a real estate professional, who learned about hospitality PR working with business leaders such as Ian Shrager, the creator of Studio 54 in New York and the “boutique” hotel fashion.
Her future husband Matt was born in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, where his father Julius was lord-mayor (the family traveled by official Rolls-Royce).
He was destined to become a Euro-banker before the lure of the hospitality business drew him into opening a series of bars called Eclipse in hotels around the world and an early “farm-to-table” restaurant called Bumpkin, which offered “country food for city folk.”
Hermer made tabloid headlines with Bijous, a discreet nightclub in west London, which became famous for attracting Hollywood talent (Leo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington) and younger members of the royal family who felt safe on its tiny dance floor.
There are stories he will never tell.
Marissa and Matt met at a London dinner party, went on a first date to the famed races at Goodwood and, after three years punctuated by visits to her New York base, got married on June 20, 2010. They will be celebrating their eighth anniversary sampling food in Italy.
Their London life seemed pretty enviable: Marissa even starred in a Bravo reality TV show about expats living the posh life called “Ladies of London.”
So why return to California?
“It was about time, about blues skies rather than very crowded city, and we had to make choices for the kids,” she said.
Marissa also wanted to eat a lot more avocado and write a cookbook, published last year as “An American Girl in London: 120 Nourishing Recipes for Your Family from a Californian Expat.”
So why open a restaurant in the Palisades?
“Because there were not many places to eat here, but with Caruso opening up, and coffee shops arriving, it felt there was an opportunity to join something new,” Matt said.
“And because Rick has made it so easy for us,” Marissa added.
“We wanted to create something family-centered, affordable and relaxed—the kind of place I could visit with the kids for breakfast, with our puppy [a Bernese Mountain Dog] leashed in the park, lunch with my girlfriends and then share a cocktail at night,” she said.
“It will be blending the best of Californian cuisine—fresh farmers market ingredients and healthy drinks. I am not a health nut, but I have to be healthy to keep up with the kids, and this will reflect what we enjoy and want to share as a family.”
Although there will be British favorites—Pimm’s #1 Cup for summer cocktails and Black Velvet (champagne and Guinness), lamb Shepherd’s Pie, a Sunday roast of beef with Yorkshire puddings (if they can find a suitable chef) and a tea service—it will be a Californian restaurant based on local farmer and fresh-caught ingredients simply prepared.
“We are not seeking to reinvent the wheel,” Matt added. “We have not completed the menu but if we offer a steak, it should be the best, unfussy but with great taste.”
They should fit right in with the Palisades, then.