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After nearly closing last year, iconic Gladstones restaurant survives and adds new summer menu

After nearly closing last year, iconic Gladstones restaurant survives and adds new summer menu

Thanks to its location right on the sand with a patio that overlooks the ocean in Pacific Palisades, summer is always an important time for the long-standing Gladstones restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway.

But this summer is even more significant because the restaurant is launching a new menu that signifies a sort of rebirth for the more than 50-year-old eatery, which was slated to close last year until a group of employees stepped in to save the iconic restaurant.

“It’s the first new menu that we’ve done on our own, me and the new team all working together. We got through the winter, which is a really difficult time, and now we’re in the spring, the sun is out and we want this new summer menu to be an expression of not just where we’re at but where we’re going,” said Jim Harris, CEO and co-executive chef of Gladstones, which just launched their new summer menu.

The new menu items include farm to table salads, seafood dishes like scallops and sand dabs as well as a steak dish and desserts that include a unique take on a banana split that’s named after the restaurant’s previous famous owner.

“We want to do something more food forward, something a little more healthy, green, more sustainable,” Harris said.

  • Gladstones in Pacific Palisades has just unveiled a new summer...

    Gladstones in Pacific Palisades has just unveiled a new summer menu. (Photo by Richard Guzman)

  • Gladstones in Pacific Palisades has just unveiled a new summer...

    Gladstones in Pacific Palisades has just unveiled a new summer menu. (Photo by Richard Guzman)

  • Gladstones in Pacific Palisades has just unveiled a new summer...

    Gladstones in Pacific Palisades has just unveiled a new summer menu. (Photo by Richard Guzman)

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Originally opened in 1972 in Santa Monica Canyon, Gladstones moved in 1981 to Pacific Coast Highway at the corner of Sunset Boulevard, where it overlooks Will Rogers State Beach. It has since attracted a loyal following with some employees that have been working there for decades.

That all almost came to an end last year. Gladstones was previously owned by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who died in April 2023,  and when he passed the staff was told the restaurant would close in October.

That’s when Harris, along with executive chef Juan Aquino and then-general manager Alex Peniston stepped in and took over after securing investors and creating Gladstone’s Legacy Group, which now runs the restaurant.

“We told the staff on that Saturday before we were supposed to close the following Thursday and brought everyone in the kitchen and told them we weren’t losing our jobs, and it was just cheers in the kitchen. It was one of the most emotional days of my life,” he said.

With a new crew running the restaurant Harris said they wanted to create new dishes that would help redefine Gladstones.

“We have a very long reputation, everyone knows us for our great views and cocktails and people kind of associate us with fish and chips and burgers and not really the more current things that are going on culinary,” he said. “We needed to elevate and evolve and not do something that was based around what we were doing 10-15 years ago,” Harris said.

Some of the new items include the Can’t be Beets, a salad made of roasted red and golden beets with spinach, feta cheese and candied walnuts doused in a lemon poppy seed dressing.

“It’s just a unique flavor, and with the lemon poppy sweet vinaigrette it’s just a burst of citrus with a little sweet in there,” he said.

Among the new main dishes is the Deep Dive Risotto, made with New England Diver Scallops atop a thick spinach risotto with vegetables.

“You bite into it and there’s this pop and it’s citrusy, the sea salt really shows,” he said.

Another main dish in the Turf and Tomatoes, made with a grass fed Wagyu skirt steak served with a shaved Brussels sprout salad, tomatoes and Romanesco. And for dessert there’s a nod to the former owner with the Dick’s Summer Split, which is their take on a banana split. It’s made with caramelized bananas, chocolate and vanilla ice cream topped with a house made whipped cream and berries.

“My boss Richard Riordan was a character to say the least. He would come in once a week, fire me once a week and then rehire me. And he would always have this banana split as an appetizer. He just loved it so we wanted to do something to honor him,” Harris said. .

Here’s the new summer food menu:

Salads

Summer at the Stone Salad: Made with grilled peaches, Rainier cherries, goat cheese and croutons.

Can’t be Beets: Roasted red and golden beets with spinach, feta cheese, walnuts and lemon poppy seed dressing.

Coastal Crab Cake: It includes blue crab claw meat, bread crumbs and chipotle aioli.

Entrees

Surf and Sand Dabs: The sand dabs are served with scalloped potatoes, haricot, radish and lemon capers.

Deep Dive Risotto: The dish is made with New England Diver Scallops on a thick spinach risotto with vegetables.

Turf and Tomatoes: Grass fed Wagyu skirt steak is served with shaved brussels sprouts.

Desserts

Dick’s Summer Split: A new take on a banana split with caramelized bananas, ice cream and berries.

The Lazy Hasi Sundae: Hasi sourdough cookie served with ice cream for Echo Park’s Fluffy McClouds ice cream shop.

Gladstones is at 17300 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades. 310-454-3474 or gladstones.com

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