Last week, reports surfaced that Lisa Vanderpump’s “famed” Beverly Hills restaurant Villa Blanca was closing. Some say it was “Mediterranean-inspired,” although who could really know for sure, considering it wasn’t known for its food. Instead, it served as a reality television soundstage for nearly a decade, with the trappings of a functioning restaurant peppered about. The food, from experience, was dismal, the decor stuffy and pristine in the way you might imagine a banquet hall in a strip mall might look. Now it’s gone, possibly forever. Rest in pieces!
When Tamara Tattles reported that Vanderpump had closed Villa Blanca, my instinct was to react. Instead, I decided to hold back and take the weekend to sort out my thoughts. Well, the weekend is over, and with it, so is my self-imposed embargo. I’ll keep it simple: Like Vanderpump’s namesake reality show Vanderpump Rules, Villa Blanca was beginning to show its age.
When I first stepped inside there last summer, I was struck by the monochromic decor. It almost forced me to don some sunglasses, even when seated far from any window, because the starch-white table cloths and chairs and interior finishes nearly made it impossible to see the cluttered menu. The cocktail I was served could best be described as “fruity,” and I had the feeling while indoors that I was participating in a Disneyland attraction with strangers with whom I did not sign up to do so. Around me, people frenetically snapped pictures of passing waiters, hoping they might get the first glimpse at a future Vanderpump Rules cast member. From time to time, the occasional Beverly Hills layabout, bedecked in statement necklaces and white jeans, would wander in. Sometimes they’d order. Sometimes they wouldn’t.
Looking back, my impressions of the restaurant mirror how I felt watching the most reason season of Vanderpump Rules. Both seemed out of place. Villa Blanca because it’s decor hasn’t been updated for almost as long as I’ve been alive, probably, and Vanderpump Rules because the culture of reality television is swiftly moving on without Vanderpump’s dysfunctional waitstaff in tow. It would seem Vanderpump herself, to some agree, can sense this. In their report, Tamara Tattles noted that Vanderpump and husband Ken Todd have been trying to get out of their lease “for years.” A spy for the outlet was also told by nearby eateries and establishments that the famed restauranteurs has allegedly received government relief because of coronavirus, and still called it “quits.”
In her separate restaurant crawl back in 2015, former Jezebel writer Kara Brown noted the Disneyland parallel:
Beverly Hills truly is a parody of itself. It feels like you’re walking through downtown Disney except Mickey Mouse is dispensing fillers and charges you $25 for a basic manicure. When the wind blows, you can smell self-hatred masked by the fumes of expensive cars. All of this is to say that Villa Blanca fits in perfectly.
Like Brown’s observation that Villa Blanca fitted in “perfectly” to Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump also slotted nicely into Bravo’s crown jewel, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. For a time, at least. Until she was dethroned by her own machinations—something about Radar Online and some adopted dogs—and left to rot in the fetid remains of Vanderpump Rules. Among her cast of Peter Pan wannabes and former waitresses with failed lifestyle blogs, many of whom have since been fired for extreme racism, Vanderpump fit in perfectly. Like her spray-tanned minions, who infested the halls of Villa Blanca and her other establishments, like SUR and Pump, Vanderpump refused to accept the passing of time. In the most recent season, it’s clear she still thinks of herself as the queen of reality TV, although her restaurants are empty of actual patrons, and various other shows like 90 Day Fiancé and Selling Sunset and Love Is Blind have come along to rob her of everything she owns. Perhaps, Villa Blanca will be her wakeup call.
Sitting in Villa Blanca last June, I had the sense that the restaurant was beyond saving. I even left myself a voice note: “There is literally nothing this place could do to not look hideous.” Rude, probably, but I was two “fruity” drinks in. Looking back, with a more sober gaze, I feel the same way. Even in an extended conversation with my colleague Clover Hope, neither her nor I could envision a future where Vanderpump Rules might redeem itself, and finally be watchable again. There’s also no chance that Vanderpump will ever crawl her way back to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but certainly, not while former frenemy, Kyle Richards, is prancing around in Vanderpump’s ill-fitting crown.
For now, one thing is certain: Villa Blanca is closed, probably for good! Good riddance, and good luck on all your future goat cheese ball centric menus, Lisa Vanderpump.