By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
The Palisades Village iteration of SunLife Organics has closed, which is slated to reopen in early 2022 as ROCA Pizza, according to a representative from Caruso.
The juice and smoothie spot, situated between Porta Via Palisades and PAIGE, was one of the original tenants to open in Palisades Village in September 2018.
Founder Khalil Rafati first launched SunLife in Malibu in 2011 with business partner Hayley Gorcey. He previously shared that he struggled with drug addiction, homelessness and depression before redirecting his life toward healthy living.
“I really didn’t have a choice,” Rafati said to the Palisadian-Post in 2018, in reference to his lifestyle change. “I felt so anxious and lethargic all the time, so I, very addictively, began to pursue things that would make me feel better and more energetic … something magical happens when you truly serve people from your heart.”
With the launch of SunLife Organics, he said he wanted to provide a space for friends, neighbors and members of the community to access “true nourishment.”
“We wanted a place where people could go for organic juices, organic smoothies, organic salads, organic everything really,” according to the SunLife website, “but beyond that, we wanted a place where we could come together and reconnect as a community, away from our iPads, smartphones and ‘social networks.’ A place to elevate the human spirit and help us get back to basics. We wanted to hire kids from the local community and provide a fun, safe and sober environment for them to learn, grow and thrive.”
Two additional SunLife locations in Caruso-owned properties remained open as the Palisadian-Post went to print: The Promenade at Westlake and The Lakes at Thousand Oaks, both located in the Conejo Valley.
The original SunLife space, located at 3835 Cross Creek Road in Malibu, also remained open.
Representatives from SunLife Organics did not respond to requests for comment about why the Palisades Village location closed as the Post went to print Tuesday.
“I am really, really excited about going to Palisades Village,” ROCA Co-founder and CEO Rick Rosenfield said to the Palisadian-Post in a July interview. “The Village has been a part of my life for a long time … my daughters approve of Palisades Village.”
Rick brings years of expertise with him, including his 25-year leadership of California Pizza Kitchen. CPK was launched in 1985 after Rosenfield and his business partner, Larry Flax, noticed a trend of upscale pizza in high-end restaurants and wanted to provide an affordable alternative.
The restaurant celebrates and commemorates its Roman origins with “RO” and its California-inspired ethos with “CA.”
ROCA’s pizza dough is cold fermented for 48 to 72 hours, which creates a puffy rise in the dough and when baked, a notable crunch. During the fermentation process, the enzymes in the wheat flour break down the gluten proteins, making it easier to digest, Rick said.
ROCA’s pizzas will be available by-the-cut, with half- or full-pan options. Current menu highlights include the Soppressata and Burrata, Margherita, and Potato and Porcini pizza.
Other recent changes at the development include the opening of taqueria Qué Padre, in the space formerly occupied by Botanica Bazaar next to Blue Ribbon Sushi, and the closure of WILLIAM B + friends, which was open for less than one year on Sunset Boulevard between Sweet Laurel and Gornik & Drucker.
Diptyque also recently opened its doors, which took over a space previously occupied by Cynthia Rowley since Palisades Village first opened in 2018.
Ombra, a wine bar and eatery slated to open across from Hank’s and Bay Theatre by Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, is still reported to be coming soon, according to signage on the space and the Palisades Village website.
As the Post went to print Tuesday, there was still no word on when the Bay Theatre would reopen following pandemic-related closures, though the Cinépolis location at Caruso’s Promenade at Westlake has since reopened.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that ROCA Pizza will move into the space once occupied by SunLife Organics—information that was received after the paper went to print Tuesday afternoon.
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