Love it or hate it. La Valencia’s Whaling Bar is closing on Valentine’s Day. The 60-year-old bar, a haven for artists and writers for many years, will be redesigned as a French bistro.
The bar does not see much traffic, according to Hotel Managing Director Mark Dibella.
“The Whaling Bar of today is indeed a great legend, but sadly one that sits mostly idle with but a handful of loyal customers at any given time. The stories of past writers and celebrities are true and they are lovely but many decades long gone; their legacy however will always remain,” Dibella said in a letter dated Jan. 3.
“There are definitely amazing stories of what people have done there, but they are not going back on a regular basis. And that won’t sustain it. It hasn’t sustained it for a while,” he added.
Dibella said La Valencia has “diligently researched the history of our Prospect Street space from its retail beginnings to the early success of La Jolla’s first true café and the legacy of the current bar.”
The hotel bar will keep the name of the adjacent cafe space—Café La Rue. Dibella explained last month that the bar and adjacent café space will be combined as one larger room. He said the inspiration for the décor is being taken from the Wing Howard paintings depicting French scenes from the 1920s.
The new space will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a French bistro feel with wine vault. Fare will be lighter than its current menu. It will have better access to the patio for outdoor dining, more seating and lobby level ADA public restrooms, something the hotel currently lacks.
Café La Rue is expected to open this spring.