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Cantina To Play Off Jay Leno

It just doesn’t seem fair. After taking three years to raise money, complete a $1 million renovation and get a liquor license, Casa Cabo Bar & Grill opened in January across the street from “The Tonight Show” – only to learn that the show will be moving to New York when Jay Leno retires. Casa Cabo is in the former location of Chadney’s, a Burbank restaurant that opened in 1974. The steak house served studio hands and stars alike, including Johnny Carson, Tom Brokaw and Bob Hope, before business fizzled and it closed in 1998 when the roof literally caved in. The dilapidated structure at 3000 W. Olive Ave. sat vacant for more than a decade, as the property owner rejected various proposals, including one for a Burger King. Then chef Gabriel Rocha, his brother Nestor, and a silent partner came up with the idea for a cantina serving regional Mexican food and a wide selection of tequila – decorated with a luchador motif of Mexican masked wrestling. Rocha is taking the departure of the show in stride, saying the restaurant, which will feature music four nights a week, did not expect most of its patrons from the show anyway. “We cater more to the people that work at the studios than the people who visit the shows,” he said. In fact, Rocha and his partners had initially planned to open Casa Cabo in one of the beach cities before deciding on the old Chadney’s building, given its location, history and a space big enough for live music. The property has been owned by the family of real estate investor Jack Howard since 1966, and is now owned by son Brad Howard, who operates Jackbilt Inc., a Burbank real estate investment firm. Howard said he was impressed with the Casa Cabo proposal. “I knew they could bring in good talent for music on the weekends similar to what the old Chadney’s had. It’s always been an entertainment mecca and they could keep up with that,” said Howard, who contributed to the tenant improvements. Rocha said E! Entertainment Television LLC already plans to record an interview with Sofia Vergara there, while Telemundo Network will host a Cinco de Mayo celebration. “Some people come wanting to see Chadney’s,” Rocha said. “One thing they’re going to have to realize is that with my food they’re going to get a different and unique experience.” – Lucy Guanuna

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