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Sportsmen's Lodge: Reports of its Death Greatly Exaggerated

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This week the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City seems to have opened and closed more times than Homer Simpson's refrigerator door (The light goes on; the light goes off; the light goes on; the light goes off). On Tuesday, the Sportsmen's Lodge director, Linda Scott, told ABC News that the lodge is "destined for the wrecking ball." The story was picked up on AP and widely reported yesterday.

Not so fast. According to the new owner, Richard Weintraub, the lodge will remain open, in spite of planned renovations, as yesterday's Extra Extra suggested.

I am dismayed at the misleading and inaccurate representations on the part of my tenant," Weintraub said in a statement. "As the owner of the Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel site, I have no plans, and never have had plans, to close all of the restaurant and banquet facilities.
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Still, Patrick Holleran, who claims sole ownership of the Sportsmen's Lodge, insists he will close the lodge on New Year's Eve before his lease expires in January. "We are the Sportsmen's Lodge, period," states Holleran, who owns the liquor license, fixtures, and rights to the name. Hell, he even owns the swans.

The conflicting reports imply that Patrick Holleran plans to vacate the premises, taking his swans with him while Weintraub will be bringing in a hotel management company to take over banquet operations. So essentially, there will still be a restaurant there, but it will not be The Sportsmen's Lodge as we know it. The 200-room Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel and Patio Cafe next door will still be available for extramarital affairs and vacation tour packages.

The 63-year old kitschy landmark on Ventura Boulevard was once a celebrity hangout for stars like Clark Gable and Bette Davis, as practically any place serving martinis sems to have been. At one time, diners at the lodge could even catch their own trout dinners. Sadly, that was one gimmick the restaurant didn't bring back; it could have been a fad.

Let's all lift a glass to the loss of green-and-orange-lit palm trees, and heave a collective sigh of relief that we will no longer have to suffer tacky weddings amongst the fish ponds nor choke down inedible banquet food at obligatory events. Goodbye, Chicken in Herb Sauce, farewell Spanish Rice. Three Bean Salad -- we hardly knew ye.

Weintraub plans to open a Western-themed steakhouse while remaining faithful to the history of the lodge and what it means to the neighborhood.

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I have fond memories of the Sportsmen's Lodge growing up in Sherman Oaks," Weintraub said. "And I want to bring it back to its grandeur, including events, banquets, fine dining, quality hotel space, incredible shopping and perhaps even a fishing pond.

Weintraub will bring back fishing for your own dinner? Count us in! But what will happen to the swans?

Photo by lavocado@sbcglobal.net via flickr