On Jan. 6, the Beverly Hills City Council Liaisons for the Rodeo Drive Special Events Holiday Program Committee held a meeting during which a spirited discussion took place regarding a proposed outdoor dining tent and closure of the street in front of Spago restaurant as well as a proposed menswear pop-up store and artwork by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH).
Laura Biery, the city’s marketing and economic sustainability manager, unveiled renderings for the proposed temporary outdoor dining tent to be constructed in the cul-de-sac area where Spago is located on N. Canon Drive.
“As you know, in the state of California and in the Southern California region, currently in-person dining outdoors or indoors is not allowed,” Biery said. “But the current plans before you are being presented for when outdoor dining can resume in person at a future date in 2021.”
The structure will take a minimum of two weeks to build, according to officials. The temporary outdoor dining tent, as currently designed, would cover survey monuments installed by Metro for the Purple Line Extension project. Metro has been monitoring these points since the beginning of excavation and to continue to monitor to ensure the safety of the community. Spago is currently working with Metro on options to resolve this issue. “I realize as we all speak about this, we’re in unprecedented times with COVID numbers where they are now,” Barbara Lazaroff, founder and co-owner of Spago and Cut restaurants said. “To get enough people vaccinated it will take time. And as I said, at our previous meetings, I still feel that restaurants seem to be the low hanging fruit on this totem pole.”
Lazaroff added: “We’ve been the poster child for safe outdoor dining, adhering to every mandate and most likely exceeding all those mandates. We’ve been very careful because of our guests and because of our staff, testing them every day, assessing them every week and testing them midweek. We’ve done all of those things. So, we were very disappointed obviously when dining closed. We had to pivot, but we’ve pivoted a number of times before. Open, close, open, close. It’s very difficult for a restaurant. Our profit margin is very small. Now speaking about the grandeur of the tent, it is a bold city and we wanted to make a bold statement. We want what we build to not only represent our brand but the brand of Beverly Hills.”
According to Spago, the tent can seat up to 125 people adhering to social distance regulations put in place by the Health Department.
“In order for this to move forward, we need to hear from the other blocks and also make sure with the traffic division that we can provide for this to work in way that we are not creating more impacts,” Bosse said. “We just want to make sure that we can assure the neighboring residents and neighboring businesses that it’s not going to create gridlock or have any impacts that will affect the neighborhood. I think that once we get that support, then I think it would be ready for prime time. But based on today, I think that there’s still a little bit more work to do, but I do believe it’s doable.”
The matter will be placed again before the City Council during the Jan. 26 Study Session.
Also on the agenda was a proposed plan by LVMH to install a Louis Vuitton branded pop-up menswear store in the currently vacant space at 468 N. Rodeo Drive. The “Rodeo Drive Mens Pop-Up” is scheduled to be in place from February through March of 2021. Exact dates are still unknown.
Currently, indoor retail is permitted to a 20 percent maximum capacity, inclusive of both staff and customers. The space will be open to the public and require reservations to help maintain social distancing protocols and allow for time to sanitize. Mayor Lester Friedman and Councilmember Lili Bosse, both present during the meeting, expressed support for the project, and the item will be presented during the next Regular City Council Meeting on Jan. 12.