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My Favorite Street // Montana Avenue, Santa Monica

Rachel Ashwell

Shabby Chic Couture owner Rachel Ashwell.

Since opening her first Shabby Chic Couture store on Montana Avenue in 1989, Rachel Ashwell has weathered the ups and downs of the retail world, opening store locations nationwide, then closing those storefronts during the economic downturn. But London-born Ashwell has remained resilient. Besides selling her Simply Shabby Chic home line at Target since 2004 and launching a new Shabby Chic furniture line in April 2010, Ashwell has opened new Shabby Chic Couture stores in New York City and London and reopened the original Santa Monica store in the same location where it started more than 20 years ago. “What I love about Montana Avenue is the eclectic mix of stores,” says Ashwell. “It’s a wonderful mix of mum-and-pop stores with a few small chains.”

“The Aero Theatre is owned by Jim Rosenfield, who has a great appreciation for days gone by,” says Ashwell. “The theater shows independent and classic films, attracting a wonderful clientele of customers who really appreciate film.” 1328 Montana Ave.

Rosemarie McCaffrey Antiques is a lovely, authentic antiques store,” Ashwell says of the quaint shop, which also has a location in Dublin. “There are many pieces from France. It layers in beautifully with the other home furnishing stores on the street.”

Blue Plate is a gourmet restaurant under the disguise of a family café, and owned by my friend Jennifer Rush. She knows her recipes, serves delicious meals and doesn’t compromise ingredients or process. There is always an overflow of loyal patrons waiting for tables.” 1415 Montana Ave.

For top-tier shopping, Ashwell says she turns to Savannah for its “wonderfully curated collection of luxury clothes. Top designers such as Missoni and Manolo Blahnik are carefully edited to create beautiful and wearable ensembles in a very unique way.” 706 Montana Ave.

“Yum, yum, yum. I am such a fan of Indian cuisine, but it can often can be rather heavy,” says Ashwell. “Pradeeps serves healthy Indian food in just the right portions, and the atmosphere is very peaceful and humble. I am often happy to go there alone.” 

More to Explore: Just minutes from the ocean, Montana Avenue offers more than 150 stores and restaurants—the perfect place for a day of wandering.

“Carrying slightly more classic and traditional furniture and fabrics, Rooms and Gardens is an important stop when wanting an eclectic mix for the home,” Ashwell says. 1311 Montana Ave.

Father’s Office is one of the original establishments on Montana,” says Ashwell. “Since I opened Shabby Chic Couture in 1989, many other businesses have come and gone. A queue of people around the block is not a rare sight, waiting for the restaurant’s famous hamburgers.” 1018 Montana Ave.

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