Biz Buzz: a monthly dispatch of interesting business news

Posted September 14, 2016 by The Argonaut in Columns

Specializing in asana yoga paired with Hindu mythology and modern music for more playful student experiences, Light on Lotus celebrated its grand opening at 3807 Grand View Blvd. in Mar Vista on Sept. 9 with a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Venice Chamber of Commerce. (310) 295-1125;

New fashion-related pop-up shops opened in late August at the “smart showroom” WithMe in Santa Monica Place: Original Retro Brand, Hot-As-Hell, and good hYOUman.

The Frozen Fruit Co, makers of soft-serve frozen desserts made entirely of fruit, opened last month at 729 Montana Ave., Ste. 2, Santa Monica. Menu items include: Alphonso Mango & Strawberry, Raspberry & Orange, Coconut with Cacao & Date, and Pineapple & Passionfruit.


Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken will close Border Grill Santa Monica.

Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken will close Border Grill Santa Monica.

A local culinary institution for 26 years, Border Grill Santa Monica will close its 1445 4th St. location in mid-October due to the expiration of its lease. In a letter to patrons, chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken say they may be closing the restaurant but won’t be leaving the neighborhood:

“This is less of a ‘goodbye/adios’ and more of a ‘see you soon/hasta luego!’ as we prepare to unveil our next exciting concept,” they write. “We have a million wonderful memories, from our opening party in 1990, when a spontaneous, margarita-fueled conga line snaked through the restaurant, to filming Food Network cooking shows with a live audience packed to the rafters, to pitching KCRW’s GM on our idea for a food focused radio show (and “Good Food” was born). By our most recent calculation, we’ve handmade more than 9 million tortillas on the comal in the window, mashed over 500 tons of avocados for guacamole and poured over 325,000 bottles of tequila — and counting.”

Mainland Poke, a quick-service restaurant specializing in the Hawaiian fish salad dish, will open later this fall in the Waterside at Marina del Rey shopping center.

The Venice Chamber of Commerce celebrates the grand opening of Wild Poke (1301 Ocean Front Walk, Venice) at 6 p.m. on Sept. 21.
The restaurant by former Shangri-La SM executive chef Ryan Steed and entrepreneur Alok Chanani specializes in healthy and affordable poke bowls.

Thursday, Sept. 15: The LAX Coastal Chamber’s Young Professionals hold a mixer and school supplies drive to benefit Westchester Secondary Charter School. The event is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hotel MdR, 13480 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey.

Thursday, Sept. 15: The Venice Chamber of Commerce’s Venice Media District group holds its quarterly mixer from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Venice Beach Suites, 1301 Ocean Front Walk, Venice. $5 donation.

Thursday, Sept. 22: The LAX Coastal Chamber teams up with the El Segundo and Manhattan Beach chambers for a special mixer from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Automobile Driving Museum, 610 Lairport, El Segundo. The event features samplings of local cuisines and a raffle. $10.

Tuesday, Sept. 27: The Santa Monica Chamber hosts a speed networking event from 6 to 7:15 p.m. at the American Cancer Discovery Shop, 920 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.

Wednesday, Sept. 28: The Venice Chamber hosts a members-only Venice Connect presentation and mixer from 5 to 8 p.m. at Google, 340 Main St., Venice.

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A Maker’s Mindset

Westside Neighborhood School is launching an experiential preschool in the heart of Silicon Beach

By Menaka Gentle

Exterior and Interior renderings of the coming WNS preschool at Beethoven Street and Coral Tree Place

Exterior and Interior renderings of the coming WNS preschool at Beethoven Street and Coral Tree Place

Anticipating high demand for early childhood education among the young families of Silicon Beach, Westside Neighborhood School will expand its Playa Vista-adjacent campus in order to begin enrolling preschoolers next year.

The prestigious K-8 private school is converting a former industrial warehouse across the street into an indoor-outdoor classroom, and activity space designed to foster experiential learning.

The finished red-brick building will feature artificial-turf flooring, high ceilings with translucent blue skylights and large rollup doors to give the veranda-like setting a bright and airy feel. There will be a woodshop with hammers and power tools, a visual arts studio with potter’s wheels, a large gymnasium for drama, dance and physical activity, and flexible learning spaces for kinesthetic science, engineering and technology projects.

Westside Neighborhood School intends to enroll 68 kids ages 3 to 5 in September 2017. The early application process wraps up on Dec. 1, followed by an open enrollment period for any remaining spaces.

“This community is going to have a really top-tier preschool [option] that doesn’t exist currently,” said WNS Head of School Brad Zacuto.

The program will appeal to “not only families who live in this area but the equally important families who work in this area, as Silicon Beach is growing exponentially,” he said. “To have a preschool in their backyard is going to be a tremendous benefit.”

The preschool’s curriculum pairs a maker’s mindset with a Reggio Emilia-inspired learning style — in other words, putting the child in charge of his or her own education.

“Children come to school already eager to learn, already curious, already scientists,” Zacuto said.

The concept, he added, is about “putting children first and creating exciting provocations for kids that stimulate exploring, questions and inquiry — giving children the chance to be independent, and not giving them the answers to a problem but letting them solve it on their own.”

In addition to the preschool, WNS will use the space for an open-registration parent-toddler program (kids 18 to 36 months) on Saturdays, starting Sept. 10. There will be an emphasis on inquiry and exploration through group experiences that “engage children with language, literacy, music, dramatic play and social-emotional growth,” according to a program description.

The preschool program that opens next year will carry on the Westside Neighborhood School practice of encouraging mindfulness by routinely breaking from activities for moments of silence and reflection.

By combining a child’s innate curiosity with introspection and focus, the preschool program has “the same feeling and culture of WNS,” Director of Admissions Darlene Fountaine said. “It’s an extension of who we are.”

For preschool and parent-toddler program enrollment and pricing information, call (310) 574-8650 or visit



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