The Proper, previously a high-end gin bar and restaurant, is rebooting this week in “proper fashion” with new owners and a different focus after a nearly seven-month absence in La Cañada Flintridge.
“It’s not going to be a gin bar,” said owner Rick Anderson of the just-formed Proper Hospitality Group LLC that includes David Yost, Lisa Anderson and Cater Lee Yost. “It will be a well-rounded, handcrafted cocktail bar and restaurant. And everything that [former owner Brady Caverly] did for the bar is alive and well.”
The restaurant in a strip mall on Foothill Boulevard opened earlier this week for family and friends and is soon to open to the general public.
When the restaurant closed in April after a rocky five-year run, Anderson and David Yost jumped at the opportunity to buy it.
“I already had great memories here,” Anderson said. “I was actually blown away when it closed. I couldn’t understand why, because every time I had been here it was busy. The vibe here was always energetic. It was always positive.”
“I’d heard a number of good local independent restaurants wanted to look at it,” Yost said. “We hung in there and tried to develop our relationship with Brady.”
In a separate interview, the former owner said he had seen renderings of the new restaurant but had not been inside.
“It looks fun,” Caverly said. “I wish them the best. One of the primary motivations for opening it was it was a shame La Cañada didn’t have an upscale restaurant with good cocktails and was open late. I wish them the best of luck.”
Caverly, who lived in LCF before recently moving to Pasadena, said he struggled with hiring what he felt was “competent” management and other issues before closing.
“We were not making money and it was making me miserable,” Caverly said.
The former owner said the Proper was created to be like a pub in the United Kingdom, where you can see regulars and families together.
“Mary [his wife] and I both thought in the U.S. we need a similar gathering place,” Caverly said. “We initially started the Proper with the intention of expanding the concept.”
Despite closing the restaurant, Caverly will always have his memories.
“I was very proud of what we created,” he said. “I’m just delighted it’s not my problem anymore. I can assure you I will never open up another restaurant.”
Anderson and Yost are hardly new to the restaurant business. Anderson was with the Cheesecake Factory for 24 years and his last title was senior general manager for the Americana location in Glendale, he said.
Yost is a manager of several family-owned restaurants, including Alhambra’s Diner on Main.
The pair hired chef Carlos Zaragoza, who has been in the restaurant industry for 24 years and said he has worked for restaurants including Fig & Olive in West Hollywood and chefs including Wolfgang Puck.
“I have done everything and anything having to do with cooking,” Zaragoza said.
At the Proper, whose website is at properrestaurant.com, Anderson will be an operating partner on site and Yost will consult and be part of the team designing and creating the menu, which will include a rib-eye steak, salmon, chicken, salad and small side plates to share.
Prices will be “high end” but a little less expensive than those at the former Flintridge Proper restaurant, Yost said.
The new Proper’s first hire as a manager was Bentley Hale-Johnson. She has her own wine event company, does restaurant consulting and briefly worked for Anderson at the Cheesecake Factory in Glendale as a manager.
Hale-Johnson says the bar will be an homage to proper drinks.
“Like a proper martini or a proper Manhattan,” Hale-Johnson said, “but modernized with newer-styled bitters or maybe a California vermouth rather than the old Italian style of vermouth.”
The bar will offer high-end whiskeys and single-malt scotches as well as craft beers and California wines, Yost said. In addition, there will be classic cocktails with a modern twist.
Hale-Johnson said she especially likes a cocktail called the Prim and Proper. “It’s like a regular mule, but using candied ginger instead,” Hale said. “So a little fun twist.”
The Proper’s name is different from that of the original, the Flintridge Proper (which opened in April 2013) for one simple reason, Anderson said. “Nobody really said the Flintridge part of it. For us, I think the name plays off what we want this to be about — a proper restaurant. The items on the menu will be called Proper. Some of our artwork is going to be focused on the proper ways to do things.”
Meredith Pominville, who handled interior design, said she had worked with Lisa Anderson and Cater Lee Yost to “take what’s already established and turn it on its ear” as well as have fun with the concept.
The restaurant has large teal chairs in the bar and lounge areas. The lower dining room resembles a library, with some books on shelves on the blue walls.
Thirty-five to 40 people will work at the establishment, and its owners are trying to hire people from local schools when possible.
“Rick’s got a daughter who goes to school at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy,” Yost said. “I lived here for 10 years. I had a couple of kids who went through the public schools. We think we’ll be successful because we’ll cater to the community. We won’t try to be a Westside restaurant. We understand this market.”
Yost said he was not worried about parking concerns because there is side-street parking, a nearby shopping center that closes at 5 p.m., and more people are taking ride-share services such as Uber or walking.
“Times are changing,” Yost said. “When there’s a good restaurant, they’ll find a way to get here.”