Locals hang Great White is bursting with color and flavor

By Jessica Koslow

Vegan and gluten-free, the Blue Smoothie Bowl is a delicious mix of banana, pineapple, passionfruit, e3 live blue algae, chia, seasonal fruit and house-made granola

“Sandy feet welcome,” declares Sam Trude, sitting on a sidewalk stool outside Great White, his new Venice Beach restaurant. “Come in with your towel after
a surf!”

There are no surfers eating here today, but the place is packed with bubbly, smartly dressed men, women and toddlers, too. The young, handsome crowd resembles a postcard for chic Venice. The décor is open and airy, and the food is bursting with color.

More than a few customers are hovering on the sidewalk, waiting for a table, eyeing diners as they munch on menu items like the Blue Smoothie Bowl with e3 live blue algae; the fish tacos with citrus slaw, chipotle aioli and mango herb sauce; and corn fritters with poached egg, avocado salsa and fresh greens.

Great White occupies the space where Seed Kitchen once stood, sandwiched between Mollusk Surf Shop and Subway in the mall on the southeast corner of Pacific and Windward avenues.

For eight years, chef Eric Lechasseur whipped up tasty organic, vegan, macrobiotic dishes at Seed, which he co-owned with his wife. Locals would pop in for healthy eat-in and to-go favorites, like the rosemary seitan bowl and tempeh chorizo tacos.

Seed closed in September 2016, leaving up for grabs an ideal spot for another eatery to blossom. The location has its own parking lot, albeit small, plus guaranteed foot traffic and
a growing workforce in the surrounding neighborhood.

Trude, an Australian businessman who moved to Venice to be with his wife eight years ago, used to eat at Seed. He worked across the street, but always wanted to run his own restaurant.

While working for Vittoria Coffee, placing the family-owned Australian brand in different restaurants and bars around Los Angeles, Trude ran into a high school friend, also named Sam (Cooper), who was building restaurants in L.A. They began brainstorming a concept for their own place.

They knew they wanted to be in Venice.

“We wanted to create something for this part of Venice,” says Trude. “It’s not an Australian restaurant, but there are elements that are there. Where we grew up in Australia — Sydney — there is a lot of this café culture: sitting outside, coffee, lunch, casual, beachy, hang out all day, meet people. Our café culture is one of best in the world because of the European heritage.”

After two years of looking for the right place, Great White opened the day after Labor Day.

“It feels like we’ve been here a long time,” says Trude.

“We have a strong connection with Venice,” he continues. “It’s very similar to where we grew up. Sydney is a beach city. I grew up surfing. It’s nice to live in a community. I try not to leave Venice. I ride my bike everywhere.”

His wife also has strong ties to the beach community. She owns the brick-and-mortar (and online) clothing store, Show Me Your MuMu, just off Abbot Kinney Boulevard and down the street from Salt & Straw ice cream parlor. On most days, the customer line from Salt & Straw practically extends to her shop.

According to Trude, his crowds are mostly local — which is “great for business, because they stay loyal and don’t ride trends,” he says.

His culinary team is also local: chefs Alex Thomopolous and Cassy Pugh. Cooking is in Thomopolous’ blood: Her mother is TV personality and cookbook author Cristina Ferrare. The two talents have created what Bon Appétit rated “The Best Fried Chicken Sandwich We Ate in 2017.” Writer Andrew Knowlton raves: “It nailed all the required characteristics of a sublime sandwich: crispy, crunchy, sweet, tangy and soft.”


Great White is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with expanded hours planned for summer.

Great White 1604 Pacific Ave., Venice (424) 744 8403 greatwhitevenice.com

With a spectacular view of the iconic Venice Sign, Great White’s dining room is like a window to the world