It’s the end of an era for Downtown Ventura’s iconic upscale restaurant and bar/small venue Watermark on Main and W2O Rooftop Lounge, respectively. Originally purchased in 2004, Mark and Kathy Hartley made plans with Ojai architect Mark Whitman for the historic 1920s Ventura Guarantee Building and Loan Association Bank Building, later named the Groene building. By 2008, the Hartleys opened the ornate restaurant, offering fine food and entertainment, including  Kevin Costner, LeAnn Rimes, Jim Messina and Kenny Loggins. This week, however, they announced they would be closing the restaurant.

“Kathy and I, in this chapter in our lives, are looking for some independence, time to devote to music projects, grandsons and family and philanthropic work,” said Mark Hartley. “We are spending increasing time in Nashville and it was time.  We own the real estate and feel the Ortiz family is a great fit.”

The Hartleys relayed that they have finalized plans to lease the building to the Ortiz family of the El Pescador restaurants.  The family, who owns and runs 24 restaurants, will introduce Limon y Sal, their new concept for “modern” Mexican food.

“It’s been a fantastic ride!” Mark said. “We want to thank our dedicated employees and our loyal customers, many of whom have become friends.”

Mark Hartley is in the music business and has offices in Ventura and in Nashville.  The Hartleys are owners of the Lavender Inn in Ojai, part owners of the Star Lounge in Ventura and have real estate investments.