By CHAZ PLAGER
There’s a saying: If you’re rich, you live in Beverly Hills. If you’re famous, you live in Malibu. If you’re lucky, you live in Pacific Palisades.
As someone who grew up in the Palisades, I didn’t really feel lucky every time I want to go out for lunch.
Let’s not mince words – the Palisades is an expensive place to live, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is the price of some of its eateries.
Inflation seems to be a problem that affects everywhere as well as Pacific Palisades, but the difference in price between a meal here and in Santa Monica, which is just a few miles away, is staggering.
A bowl of ramen at Silverlake on the Promenade is $14-15, which is a lot, but a Palisades establishment will sell it for $16-18.
Teens, of which hundreds pour into the village after school each day, always go to one of four places: Starbucks, Garden Cafe, Chipotle and the food trucks by Ralph’s. Everywhere else is far too expensive for the average teen.
Yet, it seems that no business wants to enter this market. Rather businesses continue to focus on the upper end such as Sweet Laurel, which has an activated charcoal latte ($8) and at Erewhon, where there is “activated coffee ($9), a golden latte ($11) or an activated smoothie, which has almond milk, cold brew and collagen ($18).
It’s possible the high prices might have something to do with the Palisades’ high turnover of businesses. There are numerous empty store fronts. I saw a single building on Via de la Paz change ownership five times in three months – every time the business was selling something one could get from Garden for cheaper, or something that only appealed to an older clientele.
I’m not saying it’s the sole reason, but if you were to open a McDonald’s selling Big Macs for $5 or open any reasonably-priced café, I’m willing to bet that lines of teens would go out the door, and Garden Cafe would see a huge decline in patrons.
Beck Carlson, a junior at Pali High, thinks about how the town changed. “The biggest problem was Carusoville,” he said. “There used to be a ton of affordable places, and they were replaced with designer stores that nobody wants to buy from.
“They need to bring back places where people can actually buy, instead of $30 steak places,” Carlson said. While Carlson’s words are blunt, his message is clear. (Editor’s note: The 16-oz. ribeye at The Draycott is $70 and the New York Steak at Hanks is $48.)
How do we fix this?
The easiest answer is to add more cheap places. The wrinkle is where?
A common reason most places go out of business is the exorbitant rent. Lowering that would allow places to sell less expensive food and stay in business, such as Cathay Palisades, the sole Chinese eatery, which lost its lease last month, and is now out of business.
Affordable food is always a great addition to any town. There are thousand kids at Palisades High School, and maybe at least another thousand teens that live here and attend private schools. It’s strange no one has thought to tap into that market, yet.
We have money that we could spend on eating places–if we could afford it.