Yamashiro Is Getting Evicted In Lieu Of A Restaurant For The 1%
Two weeks ago, we reported that Yamashiro, the classic Hollywood restaurant with sweeping views of the city, had been sold to Chinese hotel group JE Group. The deal was praised, hailing the Beijing-based hotel operator that had "saved" Yamashiro from demolition, and eventual redevelopment. JE chairman Kang Jianyi assured us at the time that the only changes that would be made to the property would be updates to the buildings; but it appears that's no longer the case—JE's rent hike was so intense, that Yamashiro has apparently been left with no choice but to succumb to eviction. According to the L.A. Times, JE demanded $100,000 per month in rent, which is "three to four times" more than Yamashiro's principal owner, Thomas Y. Glover is currently paying. "We certainty had hoped [to stay], but what they were asking for rent was impossible," he said.
JE told Glover that there was a restaurant group that was willing and able to make those kinds of rent payments, which will likely come at a cost to diners. Yamashiro is a reasonably-priced restaurant for such a glam location. But it seems like us normies will have to look elsewhere when it comes to dining in the Hills.
Glover told the Times that the average check per diner, including drinks, at the restaurant is about $50. "If they are talking about $100,000 a month, they would have to at least double the prices," he said.
John Tronson of commercial real estate brokerage Avison Young told the Times, "There are very few restaurants that could pay those kind of numbers...It would be the top 1% of all the restaurants in the country in terms of high volumes and high margins."
It remains to be seen what will happen to the actual restaurant in terms of the menu and staff. Though, there is some comfort in the fact that JE has a reputation for preserving and restoring historic buildings. Let's hope they don't go back on that.
Yamashiro has a pretty juicy history: construction of the main building, built to look like a replica of a place in Kyoto, started in 1911 which was designed as a place for the Bernheimer brothers to store their collection of "Asian treasures." There are stunning gardens throughout the hilltop, one of which includes a 600-year-old Japanese pagoda. During Hollywood's Golden Age, Yamashiro served as the headquarters for exclusive clubs, but was vandalized during World War II when anti-Japanese sentiment was pervasive (it was rumored to be a signal tower for the Japanese).
An old postcard of the "Japanese Bungalow" that would become Yamashiro. (Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
In 1948, Thomas O. Glover (the father of the current owner) bought the space, and over the decades it evolved into a hotel/apartment complex and then into the bar/restaurant/farmer's market location we know today.
"It's been a very heartbreaking thing for us. I have been there 50 years, and the property has been in my family" even longer, Glover said. "It's been a very important part of people's lives. To see that come to an end is really tragic."
According to Glover, Yamashiro will stay open until a court order forces them to leave. An April 28 hearing will determine a trial date in the eviction lawsuit.