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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Revitalizing Areas One Step at a Time

The big developments that improve large areas, such as the NoHo Commons project and the many projects that have transformed Burbank in recent years, are great and have been badly needed. But sometimes it’s the tiny improvements that mean the most. You get enough of these tiny projects throughout the Valley and you’ll see some noticeable improvements in neighborhoods that otherwise would probably continue to languish just like they have been doing for decades. To further such efforts, the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce has instituted a “Revitalization Award” to recognize business owners whose business improvements will in turn have a positive impact on a surrounding area. The first award has gone out to Casa Don Rolando Cuban Bistro in North Hills. This restaurant at 8755 Parthenia Place near Parthenia Street and Sepulveda Boulevard since March has brought fine dining to an area that really doesn’t have much fine dining. Hopefully the restaurant’s presence will boost the surrounding neighborhood. It’s an area like many others in the mid-Valley that needs a little help. I’d like to call it one of those pockets of potential. The restaurant is a family enterprise, according to its manager Gustavo Urbina. His sister-in-law Stacie Greenspan and father-in-law Rolando Gonzalez (the chef) own it. Gonzalez had partnered with Jennifer Lopez on her restaurant Madre’s in Pasadena. He’s worked at restaurants in Spain and Mexico. Urbina said the principals in the business all live in the Valley. There are few Cuban restaurants here. The Parthenia property had a kitchen that was ready to go so they invested in it. Business has been a little slow, he says, but word of mouth is bringing people in. “It’s something we’re going to have to work on,” Urbina said about bringing in more customers. Building a business takes some time and so does revitalizing an area. Every little bit counts. Chamber CEO Nancy Hoffman Vanyek said “people were floored” last week during a reception at the restaurant to mark the award presentation. “This is like a Ventura Boulevard or Westside restaurant,” she said. Vanyek is convinced that the presence of the restaurant will change the neighborhood. She added that the chamber plans to regularly honor businesses with this Revitalization Award and it won’t just be limited to chamber members. The criteria committee for the award looks at such things as how the business fits in with job creation, crime reduction and whether it brings in a new type of business to an area. Urbina says that his restaurant is a great place for business lunches or dinners or other such business-related gatherings. Such productive activity can only help the neighborhood and spark greater pride in it. How about instituting a similar award at all chambers in the Valley? We’ll change neighborhoods one step at a time. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125 or at editor@sfvbj.com.

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