elledecor– Dining at one of Suzanne Goin’s Los Angeles restaurants feels like an invitation to an elegant, casual dinner party at a friend’s house. There’s no need to celebrity-watch (despite the star-studded clientele); the elevated decor, smells coming from the wood-burning stove, and exquisite French-leaning food and wine are all the assurances you need that you are the star of a very special culinary moment. As Goin explains, every one of her restaurants is designed to make diners feel as if they have been invited to a meal in her own home.
But while Goin was lavishing attention on her customers, her own domestic interiors took a backseat. She had spent years looking for the perfect house for her family (she is married to the chef David Lentz, and they have three children). The dream was to find a home with “that old-world, old L.A. feeling,” she says; in 2008 they found the ideal setting in a 1927 Spanish-style house in the Outpost Estates section of the Hollywood Hills. The owners, fans of her late restaurant Lucques, agreed to a good price. “But we blew our budget just buying the house,” says Goin, who grew up in Los Angeles and worked at top restaurants from Chez Panisse in Berkeley to Arpège in Paris.
A decade later, the couple was ready to renovate. To realize her vision, Goin turned to Nickey Kehoe, the Los Angeles design duo of Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe, who earlier this year designed the second outpost of her restaurant A.O.C. in Brentwood (the first is in West Hollywood). After years of mulling how she would renovate the space, the detail-oriented Goin knew exactly what she wanted to change. “She has an architect’s mind,” Nickey says.
In January 2020, the family moved out of the house and into temporary quarters to make way for the renovation. Just weeks later, the pandemic changed everything. For the first time in her adult life, Goin was not spending days and nights in a restaurant kitchen. The lockdown was professionally devastating. By May, she was forced to close the 21-year-old Lucques. “I had to realize early on that this was so much bigger than all of us,” she says.