From the Party Planning Experts: Chris Wulff of Cerveteca

Chris Wulff, general manager of the Arts District’s Cerveteca, says music, booze and family-style service can help make a memorable holiday party.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Cerveteca opened last October in an old loading dock nestled between Second and Third streets in the Arts District. It had a tough culinary act to follow, occupying the space once filled by lauded sushi joint R23.

Cerveteca has made its own name. The former warehouse space, with its tall ceilings, exposed brick, reclaimed wood and polished steel, is a warm and inviting neighborhood favorite offering what’s been called “L.A. comfort food.” 


As he gears up for his second holiday season, General Manager Chris Wulff is relying on Cerveteca specialties such as Chicano Cheese Pots and fresh ceviche, and washing them down with the restaurant’s Spicy Margarita and a wide selection of craft beers. He ran down some of the holiday party options. 

Los Angeles Downtown News: What kind of trends or themes are you expecting this year when it comes to holiday parties?

Chris Wulff: From what I’m seeing as a Downtown resident, the new trend is dressing down and enjoying a more casual dining experience. 

Q: How soon should people start planning a holiday party?

A: I have people calling me now to book events for Christmas, so if you want to secure a reservation, the earlier you plan, the better. That said, I can reasonably book out a party here within a week if we have an open spot. 

Q: How much should someone expect to spend for a holiday party at Cerveteca?

A: To book a basic holiday party holiday for 13 or more people, it’s going to cost $50 per person. That gets each person an entree and a couple drinks or a couple starters and a couple cocktails. But if someone has a particular budget in mind, I can put together some food selections that’ll work for them. 

Q: Should there be entertainment offered at the party, such as music or a show? 

A: Absolutely. Music’s a big deal for us — the right music is just as important as the salt on your steak — and we have a great, diverse selection of music that really fits the space. 

Q: What are your recommendations for making a work event more fun?

A: I always recommend family-style service to keep the event moving. When the food is served on big plates and everyone can help themselves, it gets people out of their seats and engaging with each other. People don’t want to worry about what to order. A holiday party is all about socializing and having a good time. 

Q: What size crowds can Cerveteca handle?

A: We can handle about 100 people, but I don’t like to book out more than two large parties of 20 or 25 people each during lunch or dinner. But we have done buyouts where one group rents out the whole space during non-peak hours. 

Q: What food items or specialties do you offer for a holiday party menu?

A: On the weekends we do a rotating ceviche plate and our chef will often come up with a ceviche of the day, so that’s something we can easily add to the menu. We also offer weekend specials that are typically something from the sea, like seared scallops or grilled fillet of yellowtail, and we can add these off-the-menu specials to the party menu, too.

Q: How do you accommodate vegetarians?

A: We offer veggie tacos, enchiladas and a house-made veggie patty. Plus, many of our side dishes are vegetarian. We offer a seasonal roasted veggie plate with heirloom vegetables that’s great for a table of two or a table of 20.

Q: If it’s an office party, should booze be allowed?

A: I think if it’s a party at all, booze should be allowed, but there’s definitely something special about breaking bread and sipping on a nice glass of wine or chilled champagne as you toast your co-workers to celebrate the things you’ve accomplished together.

Q: What is the biggest mistake people make when planning a holiday party?

A: When someone books a large reservation and they don’t follow up with changes, whether it’s the size of the group or the timeframe of the event, it’s going to cause speed bumps. Any surprise for a restaurant is going to create a delay, and that’s the last thing we want for our customers. So not communicating changes to us is a big mistake. The more the planner communicates with us, the better experience they’ll have.

Cerveteca is at 923 E. Third St., (213) 805-5862 or

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2015