Venues: Six Standout Spots for Celebrating in California

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Summer 2017

The Modern (above)

Perched on the top floor of the Sky Harbor Hangar at the Long Beach Airport is The Modern, an 11,000-square-foot venue featuring polished concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, visible ductwork, vertical wine storage, wood-slat walls and stainless steel cables. A sophisticated color palette is evident in the gray ceilings, white leather lounge furniture, a quartz bar top, warm wood paneling, green hedges and zinc planters. Part chandelier, part art installation, a grouping of translucent glass orbs strung at different heights dominates the center of the great room. The terrace offers impressive views of the sunset and a private runway. For a truly memorable splurge, arrange to use the tarmac to take off for your honeymoon immediately following your gathering. Packages include a five-hour booking, furnishings for 150 guests, use of the mezzanine bridal suite and parking. Long Beach; 562.373.2801;


Chef Neal Fraser’s modern American restaurant, Redbird has added two new private dining spaces, in addition to the open-aired main dining room, bar-adjacent foyer (both are available for buy-out) and the existing private spaces that include the Cardinal’s Quarters, Bishop’s Perch and The Nest. Located in the rectory of a former cathedral that became the Vibiana venue, Redbird now offers the versatile East Room, which consists of a rectangular main hall, show kitchen and patio that peeks into Vibiana. It can host 30 seated guests or 70 standing for anything from a chef’s table experience to a rehearsal dinner. The second new venue is the West Room, the largest rentable option for nuptial revelry as it can accommodate seated service for 85 people. It features high ceilings with original painted beams, a graphic tile floor and unique filigree-like chairs (which also are part of the East Room’s décor). Catering options include bar director Tobin Shea’s bespoke takes on cocktail classics, sommelier Ben Teig’s rich selection of Burgundy, Bordeaux and California-wines, and, of course, Fraser’s multicultural menu. Bet you can already taste the barbecued smoked tofu with truffle nage, the Thai crab soup, and braised goat gemelli. Los Angeles, 213.788.1191;


L.A.’s Redbird’s West Room features handpainted beams and a petite balcony. || Photography by: Jenn Emerling


The Los Angeles Arts District renaissance continues at this haute-meets-homey joint housed in an early-20th-century grain mill turned art gallery, Hauser Werth. A hot culinary ticket, Manuela is chef Wes Whitsell’s ode to his rural Texas upbringing, making it a perfect match for a couple with Southern roots and a love for all things pickled, smoked and fermented. The seasonally inspired menu—think lavender sours, hushpuppies and bacon-wrapped elk loin—also makes fantastic use of vegetables to please noncarnivores. The restaurant lends itself to trendy family-style service in all of its spaces, including the cozy private room with a greenhouse vibe (14 seated guests); in Manuela itself, with its pavers, diner-pendant lighting and brass touches (120 seated or 250 standing); and in the garden and chicken coop (52 seated). If narrowing the guest list is proving futile or you’d like the ceremony at the same location, take over the whole compound (maximum 990 guests), including the sculpture courtyard. The venue gets extra points for Instagram-worthy details, such as splashy murals, surrounding street art, downtown’s twilight twinkle, eye-pleasing doorways, old-fashioned elevators and chipped walls layered with years of Pantone’s finest hues. Los Angeles; 323.849.0480;


Haute Texas eats in a cozy setting at Manuela in Downtown L.A. || Photography by: Joshua Targownik

The CIA at Copia

An unusually shaped education emporium for all things food and wine, presented by The Culinary Institute of America (the college’s first program aimed at the general public), has popped up in Napa’s Oxbow neighborhood. The sprawling space offers several options for festivities of all sizes, from two to 800 attendees, including an outdoor amphitheater that backs up to reclaimed fence, a wild patch of mature trees alongside the river, a balcony overlooking the garden and a central atrium awash in natural light. Feast alfresco in the olive orchard or reserve an earth-toned room in the restaurant. Be sure to pose for pictures with the giant fork or the rolling cow-shaped cheese cart named Bessie. Napa; 707.967.2500;


Gourmet experiences await at The CIA at Copia in Sonoma. || Photography by: Victor M. Samuel

Ole Hanson Beach Club

Named after San Clemente’s seaside village founder/developer, this historic red-tile-roofed, white stucco 1928 Spanish revival landmark reopened last October after a five-year, $5.6 million restoration. Among the building features salvaged, refreshed or accurately replaced were the stain-glass windows, hand-painted tiles, ornate staircases, arches, turrets, ceiling beams, wood floors, colorfully painted balcony posts, light fixtures, the old pool (found buried under a newer one), landscaping, mature palm trees, and wrought iron grillwork. The transformation has turned the lawn, two outdoor terraces and warm second-story room into special places for marking your big occasion, with enough space to accommodate as many as 175 of your nearest and dearest. (For a seated meal, the capacity tops out at 150.) The ocean is visible from most of the property, making for spectacular sunset viewing and easy access, if you’d like to snag a few snaps in the sand. An elevator has been added, and there is a secret bridal suite appointed with white settees, full-length mirrors and makeup lights. Catering, rentals, staffing and bar service are handled by 24 Carrots. Definitely steal the club’s weathered-dinghy photo-op idea from its grand reopening. Site fee includes eight-hour use, fruitwood chairs and tables. San Clemente; 949.431.2959;


Sunset and ocean views at Ole Hanson in San Clemente. || Photography by: Villa Visuals

Sonoma Cider Taproom

Set a high bar for your soiree at this converted Northern California warehouse, just off Healdsburg town square. Offering more than 7,300 square-feet of event space, the purveyor of craft ciders can welcome up to 225 imbibers. The space’s versatile rollup doors create seamless flow between the indoor dining/tasting room and the outdoor patio. Unlike many restaurants, daily-use furniture can be eighty-sixed while the concrete bar and floors, red barn lights and galvanized metal planters that remain are easy to incorporate into a casual, modern or rustic concept. Have half as many guests? Serve them American comfort foods and charcuterie plates in the stand-alone space, which has a stage for a band, DJ or head table. The Taproom also has a projector, screen, gift basket/favor service and a selection of pub games. (Giant Jenga and Connect Four!) Let the spirits specialists concoct custom cocktails using the newly launched apple brandy line. Healdsburg; 707.723.7018;


Sonoma Cider Taproom offers seamless indoor-outdoor flow. || Photography by: Gretchen Gaus