An appetite for dining out is integral to life in Los Angeles. It’s pretty common for movie scripts and record deals to get the greenlight over a four-course meal. For restauranteur Brad Johnson, success in the fine dining sector of the food service industry affords prized access to the pulse of Hollywood.
Johnson, a native New Yorker, migrated west in 1989 and opened the Roxbury, an immensely popular restaurant and dance club that was immortalized in the movie “A Night at the Roxbury.” His follow-up contributions to LA’s nightlife, Georgia (co-owned by Denzel Washington) then The Sunset Room (both now closed), helped spark the revival of the Hollywood business district. These days his passion for dining is invested in Downtown Los Angeles where he manages an impressive net income turnaround for Windows restaurant, which is part of Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson’s portfolio.
When Johnson entertains visitors he avoids the beaten-track. “I’ve taken friends to classes at Power Yoga, to dine along the Malibu coast, and to The Ivy or the Newsroom where you might find a fair number of [film] industry networkers.” “I love exploring Chinatown and The Farmer’s Market on Main St. in Santa Monica on Sundays,” adds Johnson, who frequents the nine-mile bike path that starts in Manhattan Beach and snakes along the vibrant Venice Beach boardwalk. Major boxing events and the uninhibited nightlife in Las Vegas provide an alternative weekend experience for Johnson who manages V Bar at The Venetian resort. “Jobs and people are always turning over so there’s a constant search for what the next thing is,” he says, “since people [in LA] define themselves by where they go and who they’re sitting next to it’s important to know what place that is at any given time.”
Restaurant sales in California in 2005 tipped the $50 billion mark, in 2004 visitors to LA spent $12 billion, and LA ports handled $235 billion in trading activity. “Obviously the entertainment industry is the hub of the wheel,” shares Johnson, “as for emerging opportunities, LA’s gone through its cycle there are a lot of Downtown developments going up [and fueling the construction industry], but we’re at the tail end of that boom.” The Staples Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Music Center have principal roles in casting Downtown as a hip destination for sports and performing arts attractions. The 2007 arrival of LA Live, a sports and nightlife venue that houses the Grammy Museum, an ESPN studio, bars and bistros, should confirm LA’s new ‘It’ address.
“LA’s an easy place to live though it’s getting more expensive and congested,” admits Johnson, “it’s still a forward thinking city. If you’re not in New York the only other place to be is Los Angeles.” Learn more, visit the official site of the LA Convention and Visitors Bureau.
STAY: The Sunset Tower Hotel “Is low-key, a little more exclusive and a bit more expensive,” offers Johnson. Its art deco architecture hints at the elegance of its suites that offer views of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills.
DINE: The unobstructed 360-degree penthouse view from Windows is as luscious as the Petit Filet with Australian Lobster Tail or Bone in Rib Eye, both specialties of this steak house and martini bar situated near Staples Center.
CHILL: After lunch Johnson designs a relaxing afternoon in West Hollywood by perusing “spiritual, meditation and New Age releases” at Bodhi Tree Bookstore before drifting to Elixr for a mind-clearing herbal tonic. Here a tranquil garden offers “a place to sit and read.”
ENJOY: Downtown’s cultural jewel, Walt Disney Concert Hall, offers self-guided audio tours of this spectacular structure and year-round performances by touring choirs and orchestras. Catch a free exhibit at California African American Museum, which preserves the legacy of African American culture in the western states.
© SEAN DRAKES
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