May 5, 2008
Table for none?
Revolving door of kosher restaurants closings
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Another new restaurant is also an incarnation of its former self. La Gondola, at Wilshire and Crescent Heights boulevards, was a favorite lunch spot for Jewish Federation and Israeli consulate staff, as well as other business professionals in an area without kosher haunts, between the heavily Orthodox Hancock Park and Pico-Robertson neighborhoods. When the landlords sold the building, the restaurant relocated to the site of another kosher restaurant, Kolbeh, a Persian meat restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard and Weatherly (one block east of Doheny), which had been looking to sell. La Gondola closed for just two weeks, and reopened there.
"Everything's the same," said Nir Weinblut, who owns La Gondola with his mother. They added more staff for the larger, 100-to-150-seat space, and now offer a full bar, as well as live music on Thursday and Saturday nights, when they plan to have a "lounge-feel," he said. And because it's off the Pico strip, they hope that a different crowd will come there.
"We're getting more people from Beverlywood," he said.
Another solution to opening a successful kosher restaurant? Open in the Valley.
In the last few months a number of kosher restaurants have opened in the San Fernando Valley, including Bocco, a steakhouse and lounge which took over Tempo, the famed Israeli hangout, in December 2007. Kosher Chicks, a Middle Eastern restaurant, opened in Tarzana eight months ago.
Does the tough economy and failure of other kosher restaurants bother these new entrepreneurs?
"If you lay a good foundation it will grow even through hard economic times," said Sol Shaolian of Kosher Chicks. "There's risk involved," he said. But now that a mall is being built next door, and a Whole Foods is being built in the area, he's not worried about traffic.
Gill Dayan, owner of Bocca, which seats 185 in the main room and 60 in the private dining room, doesn't seem worried either.
"We're the only upscale kosher steakhouse in the Valley," he said, noting that they get clientele from the other side of the hill, as well.
He used the tried-and-true Left Coast assessment: "Many compare our restaurant to the top restaurants in New York."
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