The Original Islands (West LA) Will Be Closing


#1

More sadness from EaterLA


#2

Those burgers were enormous when they first opened!


#3

Landlords will be the death of all things we love about our city. Greed is not good, not for any of us.


#4

I recall when the Beverly Hills branch of Islands closed years ago, I was surprised, because it always seemed busy. A manager told me that corporate had strict guidelines on overhead/income ratios, and that although the branch was one of the highest grossing in the chain, a rent increase put the margins out of line and hence it was going to close. I have not been by lately, but at last look the space was not filled by another restaurant.

And of course, Kate Mantilini’s closed 4 years ago due to a rent increase, and the space remains vacant, which makes one wonder how sensible landlords are being, until you find out that many buildings are owned outright with no debt to service and hence need no cash flow and can wait for someone to pay high prices, or are owned by foreign interests who view it as a safe investment to simply park money, without putting a premium on generating rental income. I will be curious to see what happens with the Callender’s location on Wilshire near LACMA which cited a rent increase as reason for closure – the area is a prime location, but is mostly a lunch spot, with decent happy hour bar business weekday evenings, and hence probably okay profit margins, but it is tough to imagine a restaurant that could go in there and ultimately do well enough to survive.


#5

The rent increase is to empty the building out of tenants for redevelopment into a much taller building. Everyone there got big rent increases, from what I’ve been told.


#6

There are many times a landlord will prefer to have an empty space than an underperforming tenant that cannot pay market rents. Regardless of whether the landlord is leveraged or not.


#7

That’s too bad. I used to go quite a bit when I lived in LA. It is amazing how many chains started here- Cheesecake Factory, CPK, Marie’s.


#8

That makes sense, given that subway stops will be several blocks away on either side by the time any large scale project is completed. Plus, you have the major development planned for the shopping center across from the Farmer’s Market (RIP Andre’s). I doubt the community will allow a repeat of a 32 story building at 5900 Wilshire in the space where Calender’s and other places are, but something in the 10-12 story range might make it, with mixed use, including restaurant space. Heck, the mixed use complexes along La Brea made room for Commerson, which has nicely filled the bill for a local spot, along with others along La Brea.(And to keep on general topics for the board, I have been to Commerson several times, under various chefs, and it has always been solid --some interesting dishes, well executed, nothing worth making a special trip for, but reliably good.)


#9

You guys are right, it must be the rent. Almost all the restaurants mentioned were doing well. Callendar’s near LACMA was one of their highest performing locales (I liked their double cream blueberry). Unfortunately most of these locations are now banks and corporate outlets, like Islands on Beverly Dr. and Red Lobster on Wilshire & La Cienega, which literally had lines down the block and is now a Wells Fargo.


#10

Yeah, they did good with that complex. Folks were skeptical during the building process, but it turned out to be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, especially south of Wilshire.


#11

This closing saddens me. Islands was my introduction way back in the day to, what at least then, I’d consider “gourmet burgers”. Teryaki burger?? Mind blown!

I haven’t been in a long time and would imagine their food can’t compete with the burger renaissance of the last decade or so, but I think I’ll go and see. At the very least I’ll get my fill of nostalgia in being waited on by servers in Hawaiian flower shirts.


#12

The Toucan w/Crispy Fries, side of Ketchup AND Ranch Dressing :blush:, the real kind, not the slimy bottled stuff or the “Ours is House-made” stuff.