Saturday, December 14, 2013

Proud Bird restaurant at LAX to remain open until January 2015

The iconic aviation-themed Proud Bird restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport, slated to close for good on Dec. 21, will instead remain open for at least one more year, the restaurant’s chief executive said Thursday.

John Tallichet, head of Specialty Restaurants Corp., said he has agreed in principle to a one-year lease with landlord Los Angeles World Airports. He said the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners must approve the deal and likely would take up the matter in January.

Nancy Castles, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles World Airports, said the new lease, if approved, would expire on Jan. 31, 2015.

It was not immediately clear how much rent the Proud Bird would pay for the next year. Tallichet said he had planned to close the restaurant, which opened in 1967, because the airport wanted to raise his rent to more than $500,000 a year. The restaurant has been paying about $18,000 per month airport officials said.

Airport officials said any new lease would have to be at a market rate, but it was never clear how the airport would calculate the market. An airport source said the sides may have been able to work out a deal by reducing the amount of parking spaces controlled by the Proud Bird.

Tallichet said the restaurant will only be viable for the long term if it can secure a 20-year lease at a reasonable rent. Negotiations on a longer term deal will continue over the next year, he said.

In recent days, Tallichet said the focus had been simply to reach a stop-gap measure. He said it would have been difficult to reopen the restaurant if it did close, as scheduled, next week.

“What we have been talking about is this one-year deal,” Tallichet said. “We wanted to keep operating during the process.”

This is actually the second reprieve for the restaurant. It had been scheduled to close on Nov. 21, with only the restaurant’s banquet facility remaining open for another month. But business was so strong in the fall, Tallichet said, that he changed his mind and chose to keep both parts of the facility open until Dec. 21.

“I’m glad this has been resolved and the Proud Bird will remain open for the next year,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

(The Daily Breeze)

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