Gladstone’s World Class Seafood is getting a makeover—or more like a facelift. Owner Richard Riordan, the former Los Angeles mayor, has decided it’s time for the restaurant to receive a fresh young feel. To accomplish this he brought the nightclub extraordinaire Sam Nazarian on board, whom he will then sell part interest in Gladstone’s to. (Haute Living recently featured Sam Nazarian on the cover of our Los Angeles edition.)
The oceanfront restaurant, located on the Pacific Coast Highway, is known for its long waits for a table, large servings, and tinfoil leftover creations in the shapes of swans and mermaids. With annual revenue of $14 million, Gladstone’s is the highest-grossing independent restaurant in Southern California. However, that didn’t protect the eatery from effects of the recession and poor reviews. Zagat published one such review this week by stating, “Cutely fashioned tinfoil-wrapped leftovers can’t excuse the subpar eats, not to mention the high prices.” The reputation of Gladstone’s being expensive and unimaginative is what prompted Riordan to make the change—and call upon Nazarian to do so.
Riordan, who owns several restaurants, describes himself as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who likes to own restaurants. Nazarian in contrast, is a flamboyant nightclub creator. He is responsible for creating chic clubs like Hyde Lounge and Area in L.A., as well as the recently opened Mi-6 in Hollywood. Nazarian’s company, SBE Entertainment Group (of which he is founder and CEO), took charge of Gladstone’s operations in July on a short-term management contract. Already, many changes have been made in the restaurant, including layoffs, a new chef, more seating, and updated menus. For example, the drink list is entirely new and the seafood selection has been upgraded. The outdoor seating now has umbrellas to offer shade to the diners, and Riordan said, “It’s amazing in less than two months what they have done.”
In this economic environment Riordan is pleased to have the assistance of Nazarian’s SBE. Hoping to make this a long-term relationship, the two are trying to hammer out a deal to continue working together. The current management contract expires in mid-October but can be extended until the end of January, which most likely will happen. “They have ideas that I wished I had thought of,” commented Riordan. The revenue has already started increasing and although the amount of the restaurant Nazarian might purchase is still unknown, the makeover seems to be filling Gladstone’s order.
Via LA Times