Los Angeles Business Journal

Game Over for ESPN-Branded Eatery at L.A. Live

DINING: Complex scores triple play with new restaurants to take space. By Bethany Firnhaber Monday, July 15, 2013

At the time, the company cited challenging economics for the closures.

Neither Disney nor ESPN returned requests for comment on the most recent change or the prospects for the sole remaining ESPN Zone restaurant.

Culver City restaurant consultant Jerry Prendergast said he was not surprised to learn of the restaurant’s fate.

“It was a disaster from day one,” he said. “It was poorly laid out, the food was bad, and the training and service were worse.”

The Smashburger chain, which opened locations in Culver City and Thousand Oaks earlier this year, operates nearly 220 restaurants in the United States, Canada, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. CCG has just one Tom’s Urban 24 restaurant and two Live Basil Pizza places, all in Denver.

At L.A. Live, Smashburger and Live Basil Pizza will each take up about 1,000 square feet of interior space with 800-square-foot outdoor patios. Tom’s Urban 24, with more than 9,500 square feet inside and 1,400 square feet outside, will be the largest of the three.

Tanner declined to disclose the terms of CCG’s three-restaurant lease, but did say AEG would be responsible for the construction necessary to divide the space into three separate restaurants. ESPN will hold on to some of the space on the second level to expand its production studios on the campus and the media company’s KSPN-AM (710) studio will not be affected.

“We’re not turning our back on the radio presence on our campus,” he said.

Tanner said AEG would begin construction immediately in order to open the restaurants as soon as possible.

“The goal is to have them open by the end of this year, hopefully for the beginning of the basketball season,” he said.

Further dining changes might be afoot at L.A. Live.

Emeryville restaurant chain Trader Vic’s may also be pulling up stakes. A restaurant industry insider said the Polynesian-themed purveyor of mai tais is looking to get out of its lease or negotiate terms with AEG.

Tanner would not comment on the chain’s desire to alter or end its lease other than to say, “At this point, that’s only an early consideration.”

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