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Westwood Revitalized? Saks Closes.

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http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/10/...

The big former Jerry's Famous Deli, with parking in the back, still closed. The former Chili's, before that short-lived Duet's, far longer Yesterdays -- big prime space right on Westwood Blvd. -- closed and empty now for years. The decades-running Acapulco, with mediocre food but a great happy hour with free snacks, closed and shuttered. The space that was Subway before they moved south across the street supposed to be a new, better sandwich place, still shuttered. (How long does it take to remodel a sandwich place into a new sandwich place?) When/where is Shophouse supposed to open?

Big Westwood problem -- parking. Solution: take that lot behind Jerry's on the south side of Le Conte, build a big three or four-story parking lot. Make it free with validation from local businesses for two hours. Make nonvalidation too expensive for UCLA medical visitors or students to choose over their own parking. I select that location because it is the largest open space currently available that I know of. Another possibility would be to use the lot west of Broxton south of Weyburn and maybe mesh it with the structure that is Whole Foods' parking.

Who are these landlords in Westwood Village? It is time to fine/charge/tax them for vacant footage as a community blight. That would encourage them to avoid prohibitive rents so new enterprises can move in and be competitive, assuming they/we do something about parking.

By the way, the Chili's/Yesterdays space, with two stories and a nice second-floor balcony, would be a great spot for evening live music to invigorate the whole scene, especially since so many movie theatres and bars have closed.

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  1. Can't say I even knew the place was there. Was it any good?

    Again, just IMHO, but I don't think UCLA med visitors or students are part of the parking problem. A lot of students don't even own a car and even a lot of grad student prefer to bus it in. UCLA med center charges $11/day for parking (either through valet or on your own), and there's no in/out privileges, so I doubt the visitors are moving their cars btw the Village and the med center.

    I think Westwood Village needs compelling places to eat and shop. 800 Deg has a ton of business, Diddy Reece has lots of business (I know people will debate about the quality of the food, but it at least has extreme cheapness on its side), Native Foods looked pretty busy one one time I went, Palomino is also stuffed during happy hr, and even the place where I get my tennis racquet strung seems to be doing well for itself. Aside from that there's... oh, right -- nothing.

    1. There is tremendous sadness on my part to see Saks go. Its barely edible food sustained this future Chowhound as he crammed for many a final exams in Dead Week during those glorious undergrad days in Westwood.

      12 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        +1

        Long live overcooked and oversauced teriyaki chicken!

        1. re: J.L.

          +2. How long ago was undergrad for you, JL?

          1. re: chrishei

            chrihei, are you a bruin also ?

              1. re: chrishei

                Then you are considerably younger than me.

                1. re: kevin

                  Unless he is one of those original Musso & Frank waiters, in which case it would mean the class of 1909...

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      Pete, we may be contemporaries.

            1. re: J.L.

              JL, are you a Bruin ?

              And you weren't always a hound ? Is that even possible ????

              1. re: J.L.

                I know how you feel, I felt the same way when the Stand closed. But I mostly sustained myself with the local In-n-Out. Everything else in WW felt like a further walk for worse food. What would WW be without corporate chains and dismal parking? Besides "better..."

              2. noooOOOoooOOOooo!! Sak's closed? Enjoyed many meals there during my college years and thereafter. It was the best rendition of what amounts to a mediocre dish--the chicken teriyaki.

                1. One big problem is the old theaters with their enormous seating capacities. They used to be a tremendous draw that then fed the restaurant scene. Malls with theaters or places like the Arclight in Hollywood have taken all their thunder. Until this issue gets solved the Westwood Village area is going to continue to struggle with empty storefronts.

                  30 Replies
                  1. re: Servorg

                    There is a new dine-in movie theater now being built at the sight of the old Avco Theater on Wilshire. but I don't think that theater will bring much life into the Village itself.

                    But....TLC and Fundamental LA are packed at lunch, Fab's Hot Dogs and Chick-fil-A are now open, The Boiling Crab is coming soon and so is Ike’s Place, a popular Bay Area sandwich chain.
                    http://ilikeikesplace.com

                    Long live Stan's Donuts!

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      TLC? Do you mean TLT -- storefront The Lime Truck?

                      Ike's Place is the one going into the former Subway, N/W corner of Westwood at Lindbrook. How long does it take to replace a sandwich place with a new sandwich place? Does not bode well...

                      Can't consider the Avco part of Westwood Village. Few would combine a park-once combo of a movie there and a meal in the village.

                      New mission for that abandoned movie theatre on Lindbrook east of 800 Degrees: Make that a bar/restaurant/live music venue. Get a night-time agreement to use the parking at that office building where Palomino is, as well as the office building that used to have Monty's atop before it was renovated a decade or so ago. (How amazingly stupid they didn't put a bar/restaurant atop to take advantage of those nice views.)

                      1. re: nosh

                        I think another idea is to group things in the Village (an area of mainly low-priced, quick eateries for the college students; more upscale, sit-down places for "adults," an area consisting mainly of shops; have the Village book-ended on both sides by a theater, and sprinkle some coffee shops and bars throughout). Then perhaps they can build parking lots to service each of the areas.

                        1. re: nosh

                          The Little Holmby residents got the city to prohibit live music and/or dancing establishments in Westwood Village. Hence, goodby Dillons Westwood (if any of you are ancient enought to remember that). In terms of restauarants, good, interesting restaurants can thrive in WW. Have you seen the line at 800 degrees or TLT? They are both packed because they have good food and are interesting. A subway won't work. The parking in WW is too difficult to merit going to a subway, but an Ike's Sandwiches might just work.

                          1. re: bringiton

                            Keep in mind that that Subway is very proximate to the office buildings lined up along Wilshire Blvd., and thus is not a destination dining place, but a place for convenient and inexpensive lunch. No parking required as everyone is already parked for the day, or takes the bus.
                            Those places over on Broxton might just be one block too far for many employees on limited lunch breaks, or too expensive. That is why Subway moved to that former Quizno's site next to Starbucks - better proximity to its core customer.

                            1. re: bringiton

                              <Have you seen the line at 800 degrees or TLT?>

                              There are lines in both of these places because there are, legitimately, no other good places to eat around the theatres...

                              I went there last night, for the last time until they bring IMAX to one of the theaters because the screens are obsolete in terms of movie going, and had to think good and hard for a place to eat, before the film, that was decent. The theaters don't allow outside drinks or food so the patron is left to purchase overpriced popcorn/candy/disgusting nachos inside.
                              I realize there is a plan in motion for the entire area, regarding the gentrification plan, but when is it going to happen?
                              It's become ridiculous, to say the very least.
                              Unless a person goes in to Brentwood or BH there's really nothing of value there, is there?
                              Or is everyone missing some great eating place that's not been found?

                                  1. re: wienermobile

                                    <Have you tried Fundamental LA?>

                                    No, I haven't. The menu looks good, well priced and certainly much more interesting than the other options out there, from my experience.
                                    I'll probably give it a try this week sometime.
                                    Thanks!

                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                      Yes. Very mediocre thirty-something food.

                                    2. re: latindancer

                                      "Or is everyone missing some great eating place that's not been found?"

                                      I think that Fundamental LA qualifies for a great eating place on the very southern edge of the Village - and while it's been found, it still flies very, very low on the radar: http://fundamental-la.com/#about

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Fundamental, for all of its virtues, is not in Westwood Village. South of Wilshire, and not the first blocks. Can't see going to a movie at the Bruin or the Fox (N/E and N/W corners Weyburn and Broxton) with a meal at Fundamental and parking once.

                                        1. re: nosh

                                          Well it's a 3 minute walk from Wilshire. Not too bad.

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            ....agree. And it's well worth the short walk too.

                                          2. re: nosh

                                            I don't mind the walk but I still can't understand why there aren't many more restaurants like this in the area. It's not like it's not a destination for family members or guests at UCLA or people who live in the surrounding area(s).

                                            CPK was packed last night...
                                            I'd rather eat soup out of a can than eat at the place.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              Westwood Village has put a limit on the number of restaurants or quick-service places in the area, so basically if someone wants to open a place, they have to take over an existing spot.

                                              Of course, this makes total sense. After all, what college town needs fast food? Better to have the storefronts vacant than the blight of actual commerce.

                                              1. re: moreplease

                                                <After all, what college town needs fast food? Better to have the storefronts vacant>

                                                Are you being sarcastic?

                                        2. re: latindancer

                                          There are lines at 800 degrees and TLT not simply because there are no other good places to eat around the theatres, but because they have GOOD food and are fun and interesting.

                                          1. re: bringiton

                                            <no other good places to eat around the theatres>

                                            Which I'm in agreement with. As I stated 'there are no OTHER good places to eat'...implying 800 degrees and TLT are good....and there are no others I was aware of until 'Fundamental LA' was mentioned.

                                            It's ridiculous to think there are only less than a handful of places to eat in the area. I can travel to some very obscure places in other states where one wouldn't think there are decent restaurants and it turns out the food choices are 100's of times better than the area we're talking about.
                                            This is LA for crying out loud...WTF is wrong here?

                                          2. re: latindancer

                                            What is TLT? IMO. 800 is way over rated. Napa Valley has improved and the mushroom salad at Palamino is good. There is a Frida too.

                                            1. re: Thor123

                                              The Lime Trucks brick and mortar joint in the old The Stand storefront space.

                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                    TLT - the brick and mortar version of The Lime Truck (TLT). Just so-so, I'm afraid.

                                          3. re: wienermobile

                                            I thought they scratched that theater idea ?

                                            Hmmm

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              From what i heard 2 days ago it's a 'go'.

                                              I certainly hope so....the one in Thousand Oaks is outstanding.
                                              I love the concept.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                Here is the story on the Westwood Avco Dine-in theater. It will be run by a company called iPic. Alamo Draft House will be built in another location in Downtown LA. Too bad cause it would be perfect for Westwood and UCLA
                                                http://laist.com/2012/08/06/old_avco_...

                                                1. re: wienermobile

                                                  The theaters I've attended, with what is described here, have all the same amenities with servers bringing the food to the customer. You sit in the leather recliners/watching the movie with service buttons on the side/with dimmed lamps to order food/drinks throughout the movie.
                                                  A customer, with the price of the ticket and food (which has been stellar at the ones I've been to), could easily spend more than $100/pp for the outing...
                                                  The service person is also tipped as they deliver the food throughout the movie.
                                                  I'm not sure how many UCLA students can afford it but for the avid movie goer who wants the perks....
                                                  This is the answer.

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      Well as an avid moviegoer I really don't want to drop $100 a pop every time I go to the movies.

                                                      Even at close to $15 it's still pricey if seeing a few a week.

                                          4. I feel depressed looking at all the vacant storefronts in Westwood. There were always empty spots when I was there in the early 00s, but it's far worse now.

                                            The influx of good food seems promising, though. Fundamental LA churns out amazing soups, sandwiches and cookies, and Ike's Place seems like a great match for a college 'hood, so I hope the plans to take over the Subway come to fruition. (Photos of Fun. LA grilled cheese and tomato soup from earlier this month)

                                             
                                             
                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: CLowe

                                              Agree w/ all the Fundamental love. It's one of my regular lunch spots. Their BLT could be the sandwich of the year IMO.

                                            2. Maybe they are the same trust that owns a bunch of empty storefronts in the Palisades...... Plus factor in the bloated bureaucracy headache of dealing with the city of LA, and unfriendly business culture all over the state.....can't say I blame any new start ups for not wanting the headaches and misery.

                                              1. But there are some very good places on Westwood south of Wilshire.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Thor123

                                                  But that's not the same as WW village.....

                                                2. Like the way you think,good idea on parking MC

                                                  1. Sadly, Westwood Brewery has also closed. My husband works at UCLA so we lunch quite a bit in Westwood. Skylight Gardens has good beer on tap and a great ribeye. The best coffee for miles around is Profeta, right around the corner.

                                                    What Westwood needs, and really all of LA, is better, safer roads for bicyclists. My husband bikes every day and it's crazy how bad the roads are and how dangerous all those intersections in and out of Westwood are. It's a college town, of sorts, and should have better pedestrian and bicycle access.

                                                     
                                                     
                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: xox

                                                      <Profeta, right around the corner>

                                                      I agree. It's really outstanding, in my opinion.
                                                      I only wish the bicyclists I've practically run over from their lack of courtesy....darting in and out of car traffic, with no warning, would be more careful.

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        darwin will take care of the stupid cyclists, stupid drivers will take care of the rest :(

                                                      2. re: xox

                                                        Actually, the best coffee is around the corner at Peet's.
                                                        That Peet's does coffee very well, not as good as a few other locations, but definitely better than most coffee operations, including Profeta. Profeta is too precious for its own good.
                                                        Dropping the pretense would do wonders for the place.

                                                        1. re: carter

                                                          The coffee at Profeta is great but it's definitely no G and B or Handsome.

                                                      3. Don't think I saw it mentioned below, but the Acapulco space will be turning into a Tender Greens sometime in 2014, and the Westwood Brewing Co space will house a Boiling Crab. Nothing particularly ground-breaking or game-shifting there, but solid additions to the area nonetheless.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: mrmuhnrmuh

                                                          Boiling Crab replacing Westwood Brewing has been known for awhile.

                                                          But Tender Greens going into Acapulco? First, the space seems too big -- there is a substantial room on the left (south) that used to be a horseshoe bar, lots of tables, and room for the happy hour buffet, and several tvs. The dining room to the right was bigger. So now we're going to get frou-frou salads, no bar or popular inexpensive happy hour. Most of their profit had to come from alcohol as opposed to the mid-to-low-priced mediocre mexican food.

                                                          Unless both of these places make deals to use the parking at the remodeled, glass, former Monty's building across to the east, both are doomed to fail.

                                                          1. re: nosh

                                                            But Tender Greens food would be priced much higher than the low priced Acapulco americanized-mexican food. and tender greens does serve beer and wine, so who knows ????

                                                            or maybe TG will only take up part of the cavernous space (i don't even really think it's cavernous, just really like that fucking word.).

                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                              With Tender Greens, we get office workers daintily eating salads and maybe sipping a glass of wine. At Acapulco, we had groups of sorority girls getting drunk on cheap happy hour sweet blended margaritas. Now which would I walk a few blocks for Friday happy hour or Monday night football?

                                                        2. "Owners of Westwood sandwich shop Ike’s Place sued"

                                                          The most notable thing from this whole article...

                                                          "The lawsuit filed this month states that the owners of the Westwood sandwich restaurant breached their lease agreement by failing to pay rent for the months of February and March – $18,000 per month. The restaurant has not opened since its current owners moved into the space."

                                                          WOW 18g's/month.