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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023

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By SARA FISHER Staff Reporter The key to success for restaurants in the San Fernando Valley seems to be serving large portions at reasonable prices. “The basic rule in the Valley has always been to give a lot of value for the money,” said Merrill Schindler, editor of the Zagat Survey, the popular restaurant guide. “Any fancy restaurant has run into the same problem in the Valley: When people want a fancy meal, they tend to go into the city. When they’re eating near home, they want a lot of food without spending a lot of money,” he said. A look at the List of top-grossing restaurants in the Valley confirms this dictum. Jerry’s Famous Deli has successfully followed the formula. Its flagship restaurant in Studio City and its other two locations in the Valley are all among the top 10 largest grossing restaurants in the area. “People are eating out more often now that the economy is improving, and people obviously like our food and ambiance,” said Christine Sterling, chief financial officer for Jerry’s Famous Deli. Jerry’s is also popular on the Hollywood circuit. “We get the entire cast of ‘Seinfeld’ after they finish taping, said Al Garfinkle, executive general manager at Jerry’s. Garfinkle began rattling off the names of other celebrity customers: “John Travolta, Sylvestor Stallone, Ernest Borgnine we get everyone,” he said. The top-grossing Valley restaurant for the second year in a row is Gladstone’s Universal Hollywood, at $10.2 million. Posting a modest increase in sales from 1995 to 1996, Gladstone’s easily outpaces the Studio City Jerry’s, the second highest-grossing restaurant. Gladstone’s also offers generous portions at moderate prices, and its strategic location makes it convenient for the tourists and locals that flood Universal CityWalk throughout the week. “Gladstone’s is exciting,” said Schindler. “There’s always a lot of activity, the place is crowded, and you get both tourists and locals looking to be entertained.” Don Ricardos Restaurants has turned the “more bang for your buck” philosophy into its mantra. Don Ricardos posted the most significant gain on the List. Its sales stood at $6.15 million, up $1.55 million in one year to register as the fourth highest grossing restaurant in the area. Store managers attribute the restaurants’ growth to an aggressive advertising campaign that involved distributing coupons to the community. Ventura Boulevard continues to be the epicenter for restaurants. Twelve of the top-grossing restaurants are located on Ventura Boulevard, with the restaurants stretching from Woodland Hills to Studio City. Also, while all types of cuisine are represented on the List, American is overwhelmingly the most popular. Thirteen of the 25 restaurants listed describe themselves as serving American cuisine. Of those, five are delis. Bistro Garden at Coldwater represents the exception to the rule. Serving French/Continental food at higher prices, Bistro Garden’s gross has remained steady over the last couple of years.

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