Numerous newspapers and television stories wrote that Gladstones, built in 1972, was going to close in October.
It is not. And won’t, for at least two years.
It has opened under new management and residents are invited down for drinks and food and the glorious sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
Former Mayor Richard Riordan had a 20-year concession agreement with the County to operate Gladstone’s. The state owns the land, but the concession is controlled by the county Department of Beaches and Harbors.
Gladstone’s General Manager Jim Harris, who had worked at Dukes for 15 years, came to work at the restaurant after Riordan’s wife, Elizabeth, brought him to the restaurant.
When Riordan’s agreement was up, the family did not want to bid on an extension, which meant the County sought a new concessionaire.
In 2018, Restauranteur Wolfgang Puck paired with architect Frank Gehry and won the right to rebuild and run a new restaurant. Then the pandemic put everything on hold, even shutting down Gladstones from March through June 2020.
This past August, Harris and the crew of long-time employees were told the restaurant would close when the lease was up on September 15.
Then, L.A. County Supervisors learned that the permits for the new Wolfgang Puck restaurant were not in place. It could take up to two years or longer and the building would sit empty.
Harris was approached by L.A. County Supervisors on August 20 to see if he would continue operations.
“They wanted this to be a stop gap, so the building wouldn’t sit empty and be a detriment to the community and leave a black mark on L.A.” Harris said.
He spoke to parking lot managers Voltaire and Lisane Menezes, who came from Brazil in the 1980s, to see if they would continue. He spoke to Chef Juan Aquino and manager Alex Peniston and asked if they would stay. The answer was “yes,” and the Legacy group was formed.
Then, it was a flurry of activity. The liquor license had to be transferred before September 16. The restaurant was closed for two days for cleaning and painting and then it was reopened under the Gladstones Legacy Group.
Many of Gladstone’s employees have worked there for decades or longer. Felipe Ortega, the bartender, first came to the eatery in 1986, to have drinks with friends. Someone asked him if he wanted a job. He started by bussing tables and never left.
Leftovers from the generous portions served at Gladstone’s, are artistically wrapped in foil by Miquel Carillo in the shape of whales, dragons, rabbits and even a mermaid coming out of a whale’s spout. He’s been at the restaurant since 1983.
Although the new owners have only been in place for two weeks, Harris said they are planning “some fun specials and promotions.” The restaurant cooks the Palisades High School Football team’s meal on game nights.
He plans to reengage with the community, including adding a “golden hour” (happy hour) later in the month.
“We’ll probably work on more California vegetables for the menu,” Harris said. “But our chowder and fish and chips will still be a mainstay.”
About Gladstones, writer Chris Erskine wrote in September column click here.
Me, I liked Gladstone’s. I mean, no one could flub a table reservation quite like they could, and the food seemed double-fried, as if it hopped from one boiling vat of oil into another. Sizzle. Kerplunk. Sizzle.
But didn’t you love the foil swans?
Old restaurants feel like old friends. Reportedly, Wolfgang Puck will be putting up something nouveau here, with a vision he and Frank Gehry sketched on a cocktail napkin. No doubt, it’ll be somewhat exclusive. Beg a reservation, offload some Apple stock, that kind of place.
If there was anything I really liked about Gladstone’s, it was the accessibility. Anyone could eat there — even writers, even surfers, though we barely did. You went only with the kids, or out-of-town guests. Even then, somewhat reluctantly.
For 50 years, Gladstone’s wasn’t shy about overfeeding us. They left diners robust and happy, while we gazed out at the cellophane sunsets and that queen’s necklace of headlights winding down from Malibu.”
Harris invites residents to stop by for the view, a cocktail, the lobster mac and cheese, speak to long-time employees, or just enjoy this iconic restaurant.
Gladstone’s, located at 17300 Pacific Coast Highway (PCH at Sunset Boulevard) opens at 11 a.m. and the last seating during the week is at 8 p.m. On weekends the restaurant last seating is 9 p.m. “But we never turn anyone away,” Harris said, click here or call (310) 454-3474.