Superstar Jennifer Lopez launched this elegant Cuban restaurant in April of 2002.
As you might expect, some of her celebrity friends showed up for opening night, including Ben Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Jay Leno, Christian Slater, Edward James Olmos, Vivica Fox, Maria Shriver, Carmen Electra, Brooke Shields and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant.
When you say Cuban restaurant to most Los Angelenos , they probably think of the popular Versailles restaurant. But where Versailles is a very informal diner, tucked away on a tacky strip in Culver City, Jennifer's new Madre's is an elegant room with white linens and lace ruffles on the tablecloths, crystal chandeliers, fine woods and even an in-house cigar maker for those famous Cuban cigars - located in the upscale South Lake district of Pasadena.
As Jennifer says: "It's a family restaurant with a little bit of sexiness to it."
"Madre", of course, means "mother" in Spanish, and Jennifer says she named the restaurant that because she wanted it to be like dinner at her mom's house: "with good cooking, and it feels nice inside." And sure enough, it will be a family-run business, serving Cuban and Puerto Rican food prepared by "Chef Rolando" of Cuba. J.Lo promises to show up at the restaurant "all the time". Jennifer even hired her first husband, Ojani Noa, to run the place, but fired him six months later (which led to him suing her for alleged breach of contract).
Jennifer Lopez started out as a dancer, became an actress, and then tried her hand as a singer.
As an actress Jennifer has starred in films such as "Selena", "The Cell," "Out of Sight" (with George Clooney), "The Wedding Planner" (with Matthew McConaughey), "Angel Eyes" and "Gigli" (with Ben Affleck.)
As a singer, she has put out a string of CDs, including "On The 6", "J.Lo", and "J to the L-O".
Jennifer was already involved as an investor with The Conga Room, a Latin salsa/dance club on the Miracle Mile. But this second venture into the restaurant business seems a more personal affair.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekdays, it's open until midnight on Saturday, but it's dinner only on Sunday, 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
This is not an inexpensive restaurant. Until the crowds eventually subside, at least, you should make reservations in advance.
Getting there: Madre's is located in the South Lake district of Pasadena. To get to Pasadena from downtown L.A., take the Pasadena Freeway north to where it runs out and becomes Arroyo Parkway. Continue about a half mile north until you come to California Avenue. Turn right (east) on California and go about a mile east on California, then turn left (north) on Lake Avenue and go just half a block to Granite Ave. Madre's is tucked away a few yards east of Lake Avenue, on the small side street (Granite Ave).
[For more information, go to Madre's official website at www.madresrestaurante.com]
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