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Westside Eateries Help Form Restaurant Cluster

Now that The Americana at Brand has opened, there are a cluster of restaurants at the south end of the boulevard. And much like the group of auto dealers on Brand, restaurateurs there view the fact that there are a number of like businesses in one area as a plus instead of as a minus. “It creates an even bigger attraction and complements even more established places. It creates more of a draw for people to visit more often,” said Kevin Steussi, the president of SBE Restaurant Group, to which The Americana’s Japanese eatery, Katsuya Glendale, belongs. Duke Stewart, California marketing director for Outback Steakhouse, agrees. The latest Outback to open in the state is located in Glendale, on Brand Boulevard directly across from The Americana. “I would say it’s a good idea,” Stewart said of the restaurant cluster. “We don’t see anyone as competition. Now, it’s kind of a hub. It’s a good problem to have that people have a larger draw of restaurants, even further down on Brand.” In addition to Outback and Katsuya, South Brand is now home to notable restaurants such as the Cheesecake Factory and Frida Restaurant and Mexican Cuisine. Vicente del Rio, who manages Frida and serves as chef, said that he decided to expand the enterprise, also located in Beverly Hills, because he was drawn to the City of Glendale. “Glendale was a great location,” he said. “The location is very convenient for people.” Steussi also said that Glendale’s appeal lies in its location. “The guests we’re seeing are coming from Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank and as far north as Calabasas, even a lot of people from Studio City and Hollywood Hills,” he said. People from movie and television studios, such as Disney and NBC/Universal, also make up the client base, as well as businesspeople from downtown Los Angeles, according to Steussi. He added that he’s even seen patrons who normally dine at Katsuya in Brentwood visit the Glendale location. As for Outback, Stewart said that he expects to draw people from the Valley communities of La Can?ada, La Crescenta and Montrose, all the way over to Pasadena. “The cities around there have large communities. The population density is so large,” Stewart said. “It’s easy access getting in and out of Glendale.” The nearest Outback is six miles away in Burbank, while the next in line is in Arcadia and about 15 miles away. Both Stewart and Steussi hope to make converts out of those doing business on North Brand as well. “There’s a lot of people from out of town, being in proximity to office spaces,” Stewart said. “There are a myriad of different businesspeople. It’s just a great place of business.” To accommodate local businesspeople, Katsuya even has an upstairs dining room where meetings can be held over the course of meals. “You can have a long, leisurely lunch or jump in and out quickly,” Steussi explained. Steussi is also counting on Katusya to catch the eye of those who frequent The Americana. “One of the unique things about the Americana is the combination of the residential, along with the retail and restaurants,” he said. “The big difference is just the traffic of people that pass by our front door on a daily basis.” Kastuya in Brentwood simply isn’t in as high traffic of an area, Steussi continued. He added that The Americana is a great location for a restaurant to be in because people can plan an afternoon or evening around all of its offerings. “They can do their shopping, go see a movie and walk through the park,” he said. Outback may not actually be inside of The Americana, but, nonetheless, it aims to take advantage of the complex’s clientele. It opened around the same time that The Americana did, and after its launch, the restaurant erected a huge banner to capture the attention of passersby. “We literally wanted to make sure that everyone who’s out knows about us because, prior to that, as far as buzz, there were people waiting for The Americana to open, but there wasn’t the traffic there is now,” Stewart explained of the banner. According to Stewart, Outback Glendale didn’t intentionally launch during the same period that The Americana did, and a banner was necessary also because the Glendale site is the first Outback to be located on a second story. Stewart said that the second-floor location means that the restaurant has to work harder to make people on the street notice it. “We have some logos up on the marquee, a large Outback Steakhouse logo on the roundabout,” Stewart said. “Driving down the street, there are trees in the middle, so the eyes don’t normally gravitate upwards, but we know it’s a great location. All it took was time for people to get acclimated prior to it opening.” The Outback in Glendale, like Katsuya Glendale and Frida Glendale, is distinct from its restaurants in other locales. “The patio is pretty significant,” Stewart said. “It’s a gorgeous patio. All Outbacks have patios, but this one is open. It’s large and spacious, very welcoming.” Frida Restaurant is bigger than the Beverly Hills location. To capitalize on the nightlife scene in Glendale, the restaurant has a 1,500-square-foot bar lounge area, according to Frida spokeswoman Kelsey Beniasch. “It’s really fantastic. We paid a little more attention to the design, made it a little more modern.” Benaish counts the mural created by artist Candida Pen?a as a major attraction as well. “Candida Pen?a actually put together this mural piece by piece in her home It’s a little more of a modern art take,” Beniasch said. Like Outback and Frida, Katsuya Glendale also boasts more space. “It’s our largest Katsuya to date,” Steussi said. There’s also “a significant outdoor dining component. If it’s cold outside, we can turn on the heaters. If it’s warm, we can turn on the mister. It’s really quite comfortable any time of the year. Downstairs, you get to dine under the trees and sparkling lights. Upstairs you can see the water fountain park.” Because the Glendale location is the site of the only two-level Katsuya, the restaurant’s staircase is a centerpiece of sorts. “We have a very dramatic staircase, and we have the staircase fabricated out of steel,eight tons,” Steussi said. “It’s a magnificent sculpture that Phillipe Starck designed.” While the restaurants in Glendale differ from their other locations, restaurateurs stress that one thing remains consistent,the food. “We have a real strong commitment to quality of food and quality of service,” Steussi said. “We believe in providing the best experience possible, great ingredients, talented kitchen staff and excellent design.” The same goes for Frida Restaurant, according to del Rio. “We’re very well known for preparing authentic Mexican cuisine,” he said. “We’re not Tex Mex or Americanized Mexican food. We’re very authentic.”

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