An unusual event in the culinary world has happened — two popular local restaurants have now joined forces and combined the best of both menus, as well as their staffs, into a booming new business. The two restaurants, Le Village Café and Kristy’s, are now operating out of the former Le Village space in the Trancas Country Market. The new venture is named “Kristy’s Village Café.” 

The new joint restaurant is being operated by the former owners of Kristy’s — husband and wife team Greg Bashant and Kristy Apana — and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They say the menus are changing nearly every day as they try new things, but in general, most of the breakfast/brunch items come from the former Le Village, while most of the dinner items come from Kristy’s.

The couple says they have made every effort to keep the most popular items from both menus. From Le Village they have kept the fresh juices, the acai bowls, the quiches and “lighter fare” in general like salad Nicoise, citrus salad and quinoa salad. 

From Kristy’s, they have kept the hamburgers, the Hong-Kong style steamed fish and the French-fry pizza, as well as a number of seafood dishes, omelets, bananas Foster, French toast and flatbread pizzas.

While currently just licensed for beer and wine, the new restaurant has applied for a full liquor license.

The merger came about very quickly. Francois Clausse, owner of Le Village, approached Kristys’ owners back on Dec. 13 and, by Dec. 15, “the deal was done,” Bashant said. By Dec. 23, Bashant and Apana were working out of Le Village’s location, and by Jan. 1, they took over the management.

The couple laughed that, prior to being contacted by Clausse, they had never been to Le Village Café.

Bashant and Apana had been involved in an 18-month-long lawsuit over the lease for Kristy’s — the landlord wanted to break their lease in order to start a new restaurant. “The negative energy was terrible, and all we had done was work hard, pay our rent and do well by the community,” Bashant said.

The lawsuit finally ended just before Clausse approached them with his merger offer. Legally, the only comment they are allowed to make regarding the lease dispute is that “the matter has been settled” — but the big smiles on their faces hint at the outcome. 

Bashant and Apana said they had originally planned to take some time off and then open another restaurant somewhere in Santa Monica once the lawsuit had settled, but a lot of their best customers expressed sadness and disappointment they wouldn’t be staying in Malibu.

Bashant said they could probably make more money in the restaurant business in Santa Monica for the same amount of work, but they decided to stick with their community. 

“This is our community, too,” Apana said. “This is where our kids go to school, et cetera.”

The current restaurant staff is about half Kristy’s and half Le Village, and no employees were let go as a result of the merger. 

“A few people left on their own, but it was a natural shake-out,” Bashant said. “Our chef and most of our kitchen staff came over.”

All in all, the couple is extremely pleased with the whole transition. 

“It’s a better location, better parking, a better facility, better kitchen and far more customers who are just walking by or driving by,” Bashant observed.

“We’re moving in a positive direction, and the Malibu clients have been so responsive,” he continued. “We’ve been so lucky with the amount of community support we have. We’re happy to be here, and it’s been very, very, very busy.”

The exhausted couple say they’ve been working 12 hours per day at the restaurant, and then another three or four hours at home each day.

And, good news for fans of the annual Kristy’s Chinese New Year’s celebration — the tradition will continue at Kristy’s Village Café. This will be the fifth year the restaurant will celebrate the occasion with a professional lion dance and special menu on the nights of Jan. 30 and 31.

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