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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023

Taiwanese Dumpling House Settling into Glendale

Amid all the hoopla last month about the decision of Americana at Brand owner Caruso Affiliated to pump $60 million of improvements into the five-year-old mall, an interesting development was given short shrift. Taiwanese dumpling house DinTaiFung will open its fourth U.S. outlet at the mall in September. It already operates one in Bellevue, Wash. and two in Arcadia, an area heavily populated by Asians. So why does a restaurant chain based in Taipei, Taiwan, with about 80 locations worldwide, mostly in Asian countries, want to open up in Glendale, better known for its ethnic Armenian population? Rick Caruso, principal of Caruso Affiliated, said it’s about the demographics, which are little known. The Americana, in addition to its shops, has more than 240 apartments and 100 condominiums, which Caruso said are about 50 percent owned by Asians. “We have a big Asian population that we want to continue to support,” he said. “In terms of what they (DinTaiFung) do, there’s nothing better. We want the best of the best.” Frank Yang, president of the U.S. division of DinTaiFung, played down the demographic angle in explaining the decision of the company to open in Glendale. “We will get a lot of business from the residence above, but this will be midway between the Westside and our two locations in Arcadia,” he said. “It will help ease up the crowds at our other locations.” He said the food at the restaurants will appeal to any demographic and feature modest total dinner checks that average about $20 a person. In addition to the dumpling house, Bourbon Steak, a restaurant from celebrity chef Michael Mina, will open at the Americana early next year. The Glendale outlet will be the fifth Bourbon Steak. The other four locations are in Miami, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Scottsdale, Ariz., all in hotels. Unlike the far less expensive DinTaiFung, diners at the steakhouse can easily leave behind $60 or more per person. At Bourbon Steak in San Francisco, customers pay about $20 for appetizers, with dinner entrees ranging from about $30 to a veal chop dish that costs $52. Conrad Lyon, senior restaurant analyst at L.A. boutique investment bank B. Riley & Co., said each restaurant faces a unique challenge. “(DinTaiFung) may work if it’s perceived as authentic,” he said. “That will be the biggest thing.” As for Bourbon Steak, he wondered if the prices may put off too many Americana customers, given its Beverly Hills prices. “They may struggle out there,” said Lyon. “It’s got a great reputation, but its price point makes it more for the aspirational customer.” Also announced as part of the Americana upgrade was a farm-to-table restaurant concept owned by Nordstrom Inc. called Bar Verde. It will be located inside the new three-level, 135,000-square-foot Nordstrom scheduled to open in September. “This whole area is just transforming,” Caruso said. “This trade area is so dense and huge.” Grocery Central Sprouts Farmers Market LLC will open a mid-sized grocery store in the Fallbrook Center in West Hills this month. The Phoenix company plans a 27,522-square-foot location at the center, which is in an area already heavily saturated with grocers, including a Ralphs, Wal-Mart, Target, Albertsons and Trader Joes within a few hundred yards. The space at 6605 Fallbrook Avenue between Vanowen Street and Victory Boulevard was previously occupied by a Mervyn’s outlet that closed in 2008. Mervyn’s owned the building before selling to General Growth Properties Inc. of Chicago, which owns the Fallbrook Center. The large space has struggled since, with mostly seasonal tenants such as Halloween costume stores. Sprouts Chief Executive Doug Sanders said the farmers market-like grocery concept of his company is well-suited for the area. “The area of the San Fernando Valley that now includes West Hills and Canoga Park began as an agricultural community that produced wheat, sugar, beets, citrus, walnuts, chickens and eggs,” he said in a statement. The store will open May 22 and employ about 85 people. Sprouts already has a West Valley location on Topanga Canyon and Ventura Boulevards, in addition to six other greater San Fernando Valley outlets. Sprouts operates nearly 150 stores in eight states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Staff reporter Elliot Golan can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or egolan@sfvbj.com.

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