The Proud Bird restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport will close for good on Nov. 21. But that’s not the way John Tallichet wanted it.
Tallichet is president of the Proud Bird’s parent company, and his father David – a World War II veteran — founded the historic aviation-themed restaurant 48 years ago. It’s a Los Angeles landmark, and area residents and tourists go there to eat and take pictures of airplanes landing and taking off.
John Tallichet told me he knows the restaurant, which has a bit of a dated feel, needs a thorough renovation. But before he would invest money in the restaurant, he wanted a long-term lease from Los Angeles World Airports, which owns the property located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles International Airport. Proud Bird has been on a month-to-month lease since 2011. Proud Bird is now paying about $18,000 per month, which airport officials say is far below market value.
In order to give the restaurant a new lease, the airport wants to raise Proud Bird’s rent to $510,000 per year, Tallichet said. Airport officials say they’re required by the city of Los Angeles to charge market rent for all new leases. And that means, airport officials say, that Proud Bird must be assessed rent similar to what all other tenants pay. (Airport land is expensive.)
“They have been great partner to us for a long time,” Tallichet said about Los Angeles World Airports. “We came to a conclusion that the option was not financially doable for us. Remaining on a month- to-month with the uncertainty was affecting us from an event sales standpoint.”
Tallichet told me the Proud Bird wants to make it to 50-years-old, but that it just wasn’t feasible without a long-term lease at a reasonable rent.
“There’s a lot of money that we need to invest in the property to keep it competitive,” he said. “I just don’t know anybody that would invest money into a property on a month-to-month lease. Is there a chance we could be here 10 years from now? There is a chance. But there’s a chance we might not be here. That was always the challenge.”
At least in the short term, the Proud Bird facility will probably be unused. Airport officials say they have no immediate plans for the 8.3 acre parcel.