Friday, January 19, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Trader Vic's Will Look For a New Home

Whither Trader Vic's? The legendary tiki outpost in Beverly Hills will be torn down as part of a newly revised plan to build a Waldorf-Astoria hotel at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire Blvds.

Property owner Beny Alagem and Hilton Hotels Corp. announced the revised $500 million plan (which replaces an earlier plan to build condos there)on Thursday. Controversial plan already has both its supporters and detractors, as the L.A. Times notes:

Some business boosters are salivating: "It is so Beverly Hills," said Dan Walsh, chief executive of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. "Waldorf-Astoria is iconic in nature. The whole concept is so correct for Beverly Hills."

But residents are bemoaning the idea of dumping more traffic into the gridlocked area, and preservationists are fighting the probable demise of tiki hot spot Trader Vic's.

The hotel and condominium project was initially announced last year without the Waldorf and still faces hurdles, even though developers announced concessions Thursday and pledged to add traffic lanes to ease congestion. The new plan probably will be voted on in the fall.

But what about Trader Vic's? John Maatta, the chief operating officer of The CW network, just happens to also sit on the board of Trader Vic's (and is the former chairman of the board). He tells me that Trader Vic's is actively searching for another location in Los Angeles:

Trader Vic’s is having a big re-birth. This year we opened in Scottsdale, and Seattle. We are about to open in Dallas and Las Vegas will open in the Fall —- at a great location on the strip. Trader Vic’s Shanghai opened on New Year’s Eve. Trader Vic management is actively working LA, although nothing specific is lined-up yet.

Granted, it's not the same as sticking with the location where it's been for (I assume) decades. But at least it will live on in some form.

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