Proud Bird Restaurant: LAX wanted to raise the rent to $500,000 per year

The Proud Bird at Los Angeles International Airport will close on Nov. 21. Staff photo by Scott Varley.

The Proud Bird at Los Angeles International Airport will close on Nov. 21. Staff photo by Scott Varley.

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.

Read my original story on the Proud Bird on our main website. 

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  • timmy earl

    Sorry folks, that place is a dump. While I appreciate the “historic” nature of the property, why should the city subsidize Mr. Tallichet and his organization? Either pay the freight or hit the road. By the way, the pothole situation in front of that place is incredible! It’s like WWII just driving on Aviation Blvd. in front of it!!

    • Tim McQue

      the pothole situation? hhhmmm is Nancy going to fix that for $500K/year in leasing charges? I’m sure that’s another “agency” who is in charge of that. Timmy, as I mentioned above – if you can use the land for something that generates higher tax revenue – go for it. But that land, in a post 9-11 world, is not real useful. i’d doubt that you can put a parking lot there even as you don’t want people right beneath airliners as they land. The proud bird will go the way of the aviation industry in California – it will go out of business. Boeing, Northrup, etc… they aren’t adding jobs here they are leaving – just as the Proud Bird will leave. Do I love the Proud Bird – meh, it’s OK. But I’d rather have it there, than an empty lot with hookers – which is what the rest of the LAX area has become.

  • Nancy Castles

    The article mentions that Mr. Tallichet would like to make significant improvements to the facility to retain its competitiveness. But he makes no mention of the fact that he advised LAWA that the reason he is closing The Proud Bird is because its operations have been losing money and that the facility has become un-competitive with other airport-area venues. The facility is losing money even at the below-market rental rate it currently pays LAWA, and LAWA has not raised his rent. Mr. Tallichet also could certainly have secured another lease. However, that can only occur through a competitive process, as required by Los Angeles City regulations, and at current market value for commercial property, as required by federal aviation regulations. His decision to close The Proud Bird is “financially undoable” because, as he advised LAWA, his current operations are no longer viable.

    • Brian Sumers

      Thank you, Nancy, for your comments.

      Readers: Nancy Castles is public relations director for Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX.

      • Tim McQue

        Nancy, nice work by you and your team at LAX. I’m sure you can build some incredible condo’s on the lot that the Proud Bird sits. What is the demand for that location? What is the plan once you have made it unsustainable for a small business to exist there? This from the organization who can’t seem to figure out how to provide food service in the American terminal (oops, you do have one restaurant – for the thousands of people every day in that terminal – my mistake). Yeah, this is going to work out really well for LAX. You are going to shut it down and it will be an empty lot for the next decade generating no revenue. I have total faith that LAX is making the right decision for the public.

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