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Villa Nova to be Sold at Auction

Andy Crean, who has owned the iconic Newport Beach restaurant for the last 20 years, says although the waterfront establishment has had a good run iit's time for him to retire.

Villa Nova restaurant has overlooked the Newport Beach waterfront for nearly four decades, but come Thursday the iconic landmark will go up for auction.

Andy Crean has owned Villa Nova since 1993, but now he's ready to retire. Crean looked into potential buyers and ultimately decided auctioning the restaurant would be a more viable option. Unless sold through auction, Crean’s lease on the property would be in effect for another two years, preventing new owners from implementing any changes, Crean said.

Tranzon Auction will be in charge of the auction scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday in the restaurant's banquet room. When Villa Nova closes at the end of March, the fate of the restaurant will be in the hands of the new owner.

“We’ve had everything from gossiping, to rumors flying about fighting among the owner’s family, to all kinds of crazy stories but there is nothing like that,” Susan Emmett, the restaurant's general manager, said. “It’s a shame the bad stuff gets passed around because it really is just a sincere way of saying 'hey, it’s been a good run, but maybe now it’s time for someone else to pick up the torch and carry it forward.'”

Local restaurants have already contacted Emmett, offering positions for Villa Nova staff incase the new owners choose to discontinue the restaurant.  However, some of Villa Nova’s employees have worked for the restaurant for 20, 30 and even 40 years, and Emmett says they may be ready to retire too.

“We’re all prepared for the change, and our regular customers are all very supportive,” Emmett said.

But because Villa Nova, which originally opened on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in 1933, has sat on the Newport Harbor since the late 1960s, many patrons are sad to see it go.

“I remember going there as a kid, seeing the signed pictures of Marilyn Monroe, joking with the waiters, having a good time with my family," Mikhael Kazzi, an Orange County native, said. "It’s definitely got soul.”

Michael Coon February 28, 2013 at 05:34 AM
The Villa Nova Resturant is an institution. There is no place like it. A part of NB history. I've been going to the VN since the late 60's with my mom, dad and grandparents, along with many of the legendary Hollywood clienteel on the restroom walls. Now, my family and I, along with hundreds of loyal patrons, love dinning there. And for an ol NB locals like me, there is only one solution...It's got to carry on without King Andy!! Please, everyone who is passionate about the VN, its incredible Italian cuisine, its ambiance, views, waiters (Louie, Cliff and the entire staff) dressed in tuxes, it's late hours, it's classic lounge bar with kitchy live music, and spirit...You just can't find that anymore...it doesn't exist. It is a classic. And, you can arrive by boat! Please...let's save this iconclastic, cultural legend! Brimstone and fire couldn't bring her down! Lets make a concerted effort to save her! I'm hopeful that an investor or restaurateur that feels the same as many of us do, will step up and continue the traditiion. And not change a thing! There are no better maitre d's in the business that Ed and Gary! Viva La Villa Nova! Michael Coon, AIA Architect Corona Del Mar, CA
mike February 28, 2013 at 04:50 PM
I will gladly run the Villa Nova Mike Palitz La Cave
mike February 28, 2013 at 05:13 PM
And keep the same staff !
Kristen February 28, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Please go for it Mike!!!
Phil Shane February 28, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Hot Damn! Mike. Do it.
mike February 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM
It just sold for $6.3 Million to the same guy who bought Joe's Crab Shack . I heard it will be turned into a winery ?
Kristen March 01, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Damn, they have terrible food! Sorry but true
judy wassiliew March 01, 2013 at 08:35 AM
I LOVE this place.......There is not another place like it.....LOVE the FOOD and Rick on the the entertainer in the bar is the BEST ....what about all the other people that have worked there for YEARS.....where will they go....dont let the VILLA NOVA died ......this place needs to be here.
Joe Bowerbank March 05, 2013 at 03:30 AM
I hope Mike from La Cave or someone like minded buys Villys. After Mike bought La Cave, he vowed to NOT change a thing, keeping up with and retaining the tradition. He kept his word. (http://articles.dailypilot.com/2011-11-07/news/tn-dpt-1108-lacave-20111107_1_costa-mesa-restaurant-la-cave-wine-society). My wife and I have been going to Villys for years. Really hope NOTHING changes and the entire staff is retained. In part, the staff makes the dining experience special. Joe & Mona Bowerbank Newport Island
Joe Bowerbank March 05, 2013 at 03:33 AM
I hope Mike from La Cave or someone like minded buys Villys. After Mike bought La Cave, he vowed to NOT change a thing, keeping up with and retaining the tradition. He kept his word. (http://articles.dailypilot.com/2011-11-07/news/tn-dpt-1108-lacave-20111107_1_costa-mesa-restaurant-la-cave-wine-society). My wife and I have been going to Villys for years. Really hope NOTHING changes and the entire staff is retained. In part, the staff makes the dining experience special. Joe & Mona Bowerbank Newport Island
R Zapparelli March 06, 2013 at 10:25 PM
I travel to SO CA once a month on business and always looked forward to just hanging out at the Villa Nova for an evening or two after a long day. I am really going to miss this place. The VN staff as well as most of the locals always made me feel welcome. Where will the over 40 migrate to now? I will miss this place! It was one of a kind! Truly a classic!
Lisa Williams-Mershawn October 04, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Anybody remember the manager named "Nick" in the 1970s?? I used to call him "Uncle Nick" and he was very nice to me and a friend of mine. We were young ladies and he looked out for us. Anybody remember his name so I can look it up? Thank you.

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