It's even harder to be away from Venice when so many of our favorite haunts are disappearing. Canal Club closed while I've been away, Surfside closed, Kifune closing, Baja Cantina closing ... but the heaviest hammer so far was the news that our neighborhood grocer would be closing ... Windward Farms had their rent increased 120%, making it impossible to stay open and be able to charge their customers their always reasonable prices on their great food.
Then, to rub salt in the very deep community wound, it was announced that Great White would be taking over the space, and they let everyone know with an open letter that was right up there with the audacity of Adidas' absurd claim that they were "Defining Venice". Great White thought that they created the vibrancy to the corner of Windward & Pacific, and they had caused locals to return to the area. What?! Uh, no. Hecho En Venice creator, Oscar Galan, had his first surf shop right where Great White now is, and I promise you that you don't get any more local than that.
Windward Farms has ALWAYS been for locals, and you knew you would always run into someone you knew while you were stopping in for some basics, or for an excellent smoothie, quesadilla, or chicken salad (my jams). You could zip in to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal up the street at Venice Cucina. You could go get that quart of milk or thing of flour you forgot for your recipe already underway at home (me more than once).
It was a true neighborhood institution, and everyone that came out to show their love and support for Windward Farms when they heard the news was right. Greed IS ruining Venice.
The outpouring of love - and total outrage - means that there has been a reprieve given, and Windward Farms is still open for business as of now. They are apparently renegotiating the lease, and obviously everyone hopes for the best. Especially me, who does not want to have missed out on one more smoothie! Venice needs Windward Farms, and that's that.
On a happier note (but sad for me), I also missed the 40th Anniversary party of Hama Sushi! FORTY YEARS of sushi in Venice, there in the Windward Circle in the shadow of the Venice sign, that was lit up in Hama colors for the occasion!
WE LOVE YOU BOTH!!!! And I sure do miss you.
*Windward Farms photos by Ray Rae/Venice Beach Photos
*Hama photo one from John Vester, two from Todd Van Hoffman