••• “Gelson’s Markets […] is being sold to a Japanese company looking to expand its fledgling U.S. footprint. Pan Pacific International Holdings has entered into an agreement to acquire the upscale”—uh, maybe compared to Smart & Final—”California grocery store chain from private equity firm TPG Capital. PPIH operates 638 stores, with 582 of them in Japan. It also operates stores in Hawaii (Don Quijote–USA; Marukai; Big Save; and Times), and California, under the Marukai and Tokyo Central banners. […] Gelson’s, known for its premium service and upscale assortments”—enough already!—”was acquired by TPG Capital in 2014. The company operates 27 stores, primarily in Southern California coastal communities.” —Chain Store Age
••• Mony’s has added a big parklet, which is good news for those of us who don’t feel dignified dining on a low retaining wall.
••• The Independent profiles a “commercial-fishing-meets-aquaculture partnership” working on managing the overpopulation of purple sea urchins: “Unlike most commercially caught seafood, which goes straight from the boat to the market, Mutz and Liquornik [of Sea Stephanie Fish] were harvesting purple urchins and delivering them to Bush [of the Cultured Abalone] to fatten in the same tanks—and on the same fresh seaweed—that he feeds his abalone. It wasn’t the first time someone thought about fattening purples or any of the other common urchin species around the world, whose smaller frames lack the consistently plump gonads as the [Red Sea urchins]. But as far as anyone can tell, this is the first time that the idea is actually creating a viable market—even through the pandemic, the supply can’t quite keep up with the demand. If the project continues to prosper, the benefits are bountiful. For uni lovers, the purples, once properly fattened, are considered even sweeter and creamier than the reds.”
••• Napa’s Restaurant at Meadowood is returning to the Ojai Valley Inn for another residency in March and April, and there are still seats available. The price is $495 per person, which includes wine pairings but not tax. And Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza is selling takeout (pre-order only) at the inn February 26-28 and March 3-7.
••• The Tavern at Zaca Creek outside Buellton has a new chef—Cullen Campbell, known for Café Crudo/Bar Pesce in Phoenix—and new menus. The crispy duck on the dinner menu looks like a winner.
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