Saturday marks Union Cattle Company’s last day in Hermosa Beach before the popular venue turns into new American brasserie Abigaile.
When Union Cattle Company opened in smalltown Hermosa Beach about a decade ago, the restaurant grabbed the bull by the horns—literally—offering an all American-inspired chophouse, brewery, and infamous mechanical bull to the historic corner of Manhattan and Pier avenues.
But it’s time for the local pub to evolve, said owner Jed Sanford, a South Bay local. Leaving its wild adolescence (and the bull) behind, Union Cattle Company closed Saturday and will reopen in early February as Abigaile.
The upstairs portion of the venue, which is home to rooftop lounge Ocean Bar, will remain open to the public, but will feature a new menu when Abigaile makes its debut.
The upcoming restaurant has been designed to “pay homage to what’s been here before, but at the same time… push the edge of what I think the community is ready for in new concept and food,” Sanford told Patch.
The pastoral wooden panels of Union Cattle Company, which will be restored in Abigaile, once housed a Baptist church from the 1910s to 1970s. Then the building became a community crafts center and later rehearsal space for punk rock bands, most notably the Black Flag.
A scene in the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization “even shows [members of the Black Flag] being interviewed here,” Sanford said while sitting at a table in Union Cattle Company’s dining area Friday as a construction worker drilled around the mechanical bull in the middle of the room.
Working with design firm Bishop-Pass, the team behind M Street and Gjelina, Sanford said the interior of Abigaile will include “subtle references both to portions of the church history and the punk history and Hermosa’s history,” but the original architecture of the venue will remain.
The new restaurant’s name Abigaile also includes hidden nods to the past. The business’ logo, seen on its website, is an encircled letter “A” in what appears to be a distressed Helvetic Neue font.
“Abigaile has some serving references in it, in terms of the history of the name. It also is a long version of Abbey, which… has a lot of references to a brewery and churches, monasteries,” Sanford said, explaining, “Naming a restaurant is sort of tricky. Each person takes different things away from a name so I usually don’t like defining it too much.”
Yet, Abigaile’s menu, printed daily, is expected to boldly shape its identity with rising star chef Max DiMare taking over the culinary reins.
“I really wanted to bring a talent down here that I thought Hermosa’s ready for,” Sanford said about DiMare. “He totally fits Hermosa and the South Bay. He’s from Boston, and has developed a big passion for surfing. We just kind of clicked right away.”
DiMare comes to Hermosa Beach from northern California, where he served as executive chef at another American brasserie, Wood Tavern, in Oakland, Calif., that describes itself as a “rustic neighborhood restaurant.”
Similarly, Abigaile aims to offer the distinctive brasserie experience while serving American and California cuisine with European influences, which Sanford said should make an impact.
“You can tell a lot of times when restaurants sort of push the envelope both in their food and conceptually,” he said. “I always sort of respect that.”
Editor’s Note: An original version of this article reported DiMare is executive chef at Wood Tavern. An edit was made Sunday at 7:39 p.m. to clarify he was executive chef at the restaurant before now coming to Hermosa Beach.