What used to be the infamous Muddy Moose Lounge has been completely renovated thanks to the dedication and efforts of Laurence Whiting, General Manager of the Event Center.
When the Sportsmen’s Lodge reopened after extensive remodeling without the Muddy Moose in tow, Whiting asked if he could re-imagine the restaurant to fit in with the up and coming, hip and trendy Studio City vibe. He got a team together and as evident on Saturday evening, the affable, cheerful, enthusiastic, and energetic staff is doing wonders to help him achieve his goal.
Whiting aims to bring to the community the same warm and wonderful feeling the Sportsmen’s Lodge has always been known for, plus adding the cool, chic character Studio City stands for. “We think it’s very special,” noted Laurence, “and a wonderful service to the Valley.” He envisions it as “the Cheers of Studio City where everyone blends.”
During the ‘soft openings’ on Thursday and Friday, invited guests were treated to wide ranging menu items, deliciously and magnificently prepared by gourmet Executive Chef Marcos Arana. Every dish is displayed like a piece of art, delicately presented with the utmost care.
Fine cuisine along with the smart and stunning decor has lifted the panache of the restaurant to a classy level on par with and even surpassing the most fashionable establishments on the other side of the hill.
Th boasts three levels: the bar and lounge area, the raised formal dining section, and outdoor seating by the waterfalls and beautiful landscaping that the Sportsmen’s Lodge is legendary for.
A complete revamping combines traditional and contemporary, with the intent of reaching the younger crowd as well as those who remember the ‘good old days.’
“There’s nothing like this in the Valley or anywhere in the East Coast for that matter,” states bar manager, Andrew Dobson. He’s so excited to be part of the new design and ecstatic about restoring the renowned venue.
Andrew is grateful to have been part of the team that created a bar he’d want to drink and eat at and then getting to work there. “This is what love feels like” he declares.
Dobson describes the River Rock ambience as “going back to the 40’s with a modern twist. It’s the best of both worlds.”
The Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel was constructed in the 40’s as a travel farm where children would fish for trout, which was immediately cooked for them on the spot.
The Hotel has a rich history in the Valley and was a big hangout for celebrities e.g. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, John Wayne, Bette Davis. To honor tradition, quotes from Bacall and Wayne adorn the walls (see photos).
River Rock is so named because surrounding the bar is original rock from the LA River that has been there since the hotel was first built.
To commemorate this milestone, guests were offered complimentary champagne as they entered the restaurant. Free appetizers, i.e. beef sate with peanut sauce, brie and papaya quesadillas with blueberry tomato heirloom relish, were passed around to the delight of the joyous customers.
The talented Jazzy Jay Band performed outdoors. Front man Jeff Harris wowed the crowd with his skillful singing and crooning to the smiling spectators.
Actress/singer/producer Katherine “Kat” Kramer, whose father was film director/producer, Stanley Kramer (High Noon, Inherit the Wind, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) and godmother, Katherine Hepburn, attended the festivities. She reminisced about spending time with her family at Sportsmen’s and recently appeared there in a musical salute to Lily Tomlin.
Kat raved about the atmosphere and the food, particularly the pizza-type bread. She believes the River Rock Lounge is once again going to become Studio City’s favorite stomping grounds.
Currently, there’s a happy hour from 4-7p and late night fare. Live entertainment is being planned, ranging from jazz bands to classic Sinatra style singers. Beginning in August, there will be a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.