Gladstones restaurant, located on Will Rogers State Beach just outside Malibu city limits, has been in business since 1972 and was at one time one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the state—but those revenues have been slipping. Sales at Gladstones had declined from $9.8 million in 2014 to $7.7 million in 2016, and the facility sometimes had difficulty making lease payments, according to Eater LA.
LA County holds a 50-year lease on the state-owned land. The LA County Board of Supervisors decided to replace the old Gladstone’s with something newer and more exciting once the restaurant’s lease expired in October 2017.
Initial plans have been revealed for a revamp of the current Gladstones restaurant site, after county supervisors called for an “architecturally attractive waterfront dining destination with easy access to public transit” and two types of dining spots—an affordable neighborhood cafe and an upscale traditional restaurant—on the site.
The county put out a request for proposals (RFP) to revamp the nearly-three-acre-property last year. Four companies bid on the project, and it was awarded to PCH Beach Associates in April 2018.
The new restaurant’s approach will be to provide “high-quality, locally sourced food with changing menus” in the following venues: casual dining and a bar in both indoor and outdoor settings; a roof top bar and lounge; fine dining; private dining/events with indoor and outdoor space; corporate events; catering; and a small retail business.
Another feature will be an exterior public deck with concession stands housed in small independent structures along PCH, offering ice cream, sundries, grab-and-go food and beverages, a bar and public restrooms. The exterior public deck will be seamlessly connected with the restaurant an served by WP Beach staff. Proposed amenities include a bocce ball court and chess tables as well as a monument to Gladstone’s.
Last week, a community open house was held in the Pacific Palisades, inviting the public to learn more about the vision that LA County and its private developer, PCH Beach Associates, LLC, has for the redevelopment of the Gladstone’s restaurant site—located on the beach at the very end of Sunset Boulevard. Already on board for the project are two LA-based icons: Architect Frank Gehry and Chef Wolfgang Puck. The restaurant’s name will likely be changed to WP Beach Restaurant.
Architect Frank Gehry, 90, known worldwide for his deconstructivist style has, according to a written statement at the open house, drawn his design inspiration “from the landscapes and communities that make Southern California a world renowned destination.” Gehry may be best known locally for his design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA, but his iconic architectural designs can be seen around the world.
Wolfgang Puck, 69, is a world famous chef and with numerous restaurants—everything from the upscale “Spago” in Beverly Hills to the fast food “Wolfgang Puck Express.” He is credited with helping to invent “California Cuisine.” According to written statements at the open house, “His vision for this waterfront destination is to deliver culinary excellence in a casual, family-friendly environment ... WP Beach will be a gathering place where families can relax during the day, yet, as the restaurant transforms into evening, offers the perfect place for cocktails or dinner.”
“I’m excited to see the progress that these two local icons, Chef Wolfgang Puck and architect Frank Gehry, are making in reimagining one of our legendary landmarks. They are transforming it into a world-class, must-see, must-eat dining destination,” LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said in a written statement to The Malibu Times. “This effort is another great example of the synergy of cultural and culinary talent so prevalent in LA County today.”
At the time, Kuehl made the motion asking for a redevelopment of the building “because the existing facility is seriously deteriorated and outdated.”
Gary Jones, director of LA County Beaches & Harbors, wrote the Board of Supervisors that PCH Beach’s, “Overall design, both interior and exterior, utilizes the size of the parcel’s site to its maximum potential, and is being driven by the intent to create the iconic landmark that the location deserves.”
Tom Tellefsen, the investor who put the winning package together, was on hand for the open house. He told TMT that “WP Beach” may just be a temporary name for the project, that the new restaurant will stay in the same footprint as Gladstones, and that Gehry and Puck were both very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work on a project together. Tellefsen is responsible for bringing both men in, after working with each of them previously. He said Gehry “had never designed a restaurant from the ground up before.”
The current Gladstones will continue to operate under a two-to-five-year agreement until the execution of the PCH Beach Associates concession contract.