Transportation Nation

Local Restaurants Hope for Rebirth at LAX

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Bradley International Terminal at LAX under construction. (Shereen Marisol Meraji/KPCC)

(Corey Moore - Los Angeles, KPCC) If you’ve flown American Airlines out of LAX's Terminal 4, then you may have wolfed down a meal at Chili’s. Staffers says the airport Chili’s – with its cheesesteak sandwiches, combo Fajitas and baby back ribs – is the most popular of its U.S. franchises.

But in a few months, Chili’s won’t be in Terminal 4. Neither will Burger King. And eventually, the old Starbucks will go away.

Chili’s will soon be replaced by Campanile. It's one of 15 local eateries that will be opening in the Bradley Terminal and Terminal 4. It will be a rebirth of sorts for the historic Los Angeles restaurant known for its prime rib and sautéed halibut. Last October, Campanile closed the doors at its home of more than 20 years, on La Brea Avenue near Hancock Park.

RELATED: Campanile regulars reminisce as restaurant prepares for move

Renowned chef Mark Peel owns the business. He says he started planning to relocate to LAX more than two years ago. Peel says first the epicenter for food moved away from his location on La Brea, and then hard times hit.

“Business softened up during the recession," he says. "There are certain standards we maintain, and we can’t maintain them if we’re not making money, so it became essential that we try something else.”

Peel looks forward to a turnaround at LAX, even though his new place will be only a quarter the size of his old one.

“Campanile is projected to do $8 million a year (at LAX). I want to beat that," Peel says. His goal is to make $10 million a year.

Kimberly Ritter-Martinez is an economist with the LA Economic Development Corporation. She believes that more travelers are looking for higher quality food at the airport – and local options.

“Los Angeles did a very good job of developing the L.A. brand," she says. "So bringing in local businesses, [these] are very attractive offerings.”

Airport authorities say that’s why they sought out iconic Southland businesses such as Campanile, Real Food Daily, La Provence and Cole’s. They’re among the six opening in Terminal 4. Nine more are coming to the Bradley Terminal.

Officials say all of the incoming restaurants are working to keep their prices at the same level as if they were operating outside of the airport.

Peel says that some of the staff from the restaurants that are closing will end up working at Campanile and other new establishments.

“They’ve rotated people off jobs, kept them on the payroll, partnered with Trade Tech downtown," he says. Those workers have entered a 9-week cooking school taught by L.A. Trade Tech instructors to put them in line for jobs at the new restaurants.

In the meantime, Peel is preparing for Campanile’s grand opening at LAX, sizing up his space, researching ingredients, and working up a list of suppliers.

He’s focused on reaching that annual $10 million dollar goal.

“Think about it as $30,000 a day – this is seven days a week and its going to be open 16 hours a day if not a little bit more," he says. "Breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s absolutely doable.”

Construction begins this month. The plan is to have the new Campanile and the other new restaurants at LAX up and running by May.

Follow Corey Moore on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

LOOK: Gold Line Rail Bridge is California History "With Some Artistry"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority

The Gold Line Bridge in December 2012, just before completion of construction (Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority)

(Corey Moore - Southern California Public Radio, KPCC) Southern California's Gold Line light rail extension is years away from being complete. But the finishing touches are being put on the bridge that will carry it over the 210 freeway in Arcadia.

When completed in 2015, the light rail line will cross the bridge to travel the 11.5 miles between Pasadena and Azusa. Meanwhile, drivers can ponder the bridge's California touches: a design that incorporates both Native American basketry, and hatch marks similar to the patterns on a Western Diamondback snake.

Rendering of what the bridge will look like with light rail (courtesy Metro Gold Line)

Gold Line Construction Authority CEO Habib Bailan said the Authority didn’t want to build a regular, boring bridge. “You know, I’m so tired of seeing civil projects for governments built in a way that really don’t reflect society or any artistic or aesthetic value," he said. "And we had this opportunity [to] ... do it for minimal cost to enhance the bridge with better architecture and some artistry.”

Another view of the Gold Line Bridge

The supporting section runs perpendicular to the main bridge, and at either end sits a 25-foot high basket made out of woven concrete pieces. Each piece is six feet long and weighs 900 pounds. At the top of each basket are 16 concrete reeds, ranging from two to ten feet high.

British-born designer Andrew Leicester calls the bridge “sculptural history.” He said he created it to honor the native peoples and animals of the San Gabriel Valley.

“One layer, all upon another, all about transportation, moving people and moving goods," he said. "And the baskets serve this function.  They’re kind of an ancient, one of the earliest vessels for carrying goods back and forth.”

Read the whole story over at KPCC. And follow Corey Moore on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

LA Mayor: Parties Agree to Federal Mediator to Resolve Los Angeles Port Strike

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Port of Los Angeles (photo by Jeannie via flickr)

(Los Angeles, California - KPCC) A federal mediator will enter the ongoing talks to resolve the strike that has crippled operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says. But the union representing clerical workers says the strike – now in its eighth day – will continue.

"I'm here to announce that both parties have agreed to a federal mediator at the (Port of Los Angeles) to help resolve the ongoing strike," Villaraigosa said Tuesday at a news conference in Wilmington.

The mayor flew back from a trade mission to South America to personally join the talks, which have also caught the attention of the White House. The ports handle about $1 billion of cargo a day, and Southern California leaders say the strike is beginning to affect the regional economy.

Read the whole story at KPCC.


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The Brian Lehrer Show

LA vs. New York Summers: Brian Takes on Patt Morrison

Friday, June 29, 2012

In the latest installment of their semi-regular bi-coastal smackdowns, Brian spoke with his LA counterpart Patt Morrison of KPCC about which city is best in the summer: LA or New York? Take a listen to the audio below, and visit Patt's page for lots of great comments. Be sure to go in and defend the Big Apple!

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Transportation Nation

Claim: L.A. Bus Cuts Are A Civil Rights Violation

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BusAs we reported in an hour-long radio documentary, transit choices often carry civil rights implications. Now, activists in Los Angeles are claiming that the LA MTA has violated the rights of 500,000 low income and minority riders, as KPCC reports.

By cutting more than 800,000 hours of bus service around Los Angeles, the agency knowingly discriminated against bus riders from ethnic communities, say protesters.

“Did ten years of civil rights oversight not teach the MTA how to perform civil rights analysis?," Barbara Lott-Holland of the Bus Rider Union asked rhetorically. "The MTA did exactly what they promised the courts they would not do -- they went back to their old habits of stealing from bus riders.”

The Federal Transit Administration conducted an 18-month review of the cuts, resulting in a recommendation to the MTA to review the choice of services to cut.

The FTA review was in response to a claim from The Bus Riders Union and Public Advocates, a civil rights nonprofit. The groups argue that LA Metro discriminated against minorities in focusing transit service cuts solely on bus routes used primarily by people of color, during a time when service on rail routes increased. A statement from the groups sent to TN notes that "Metro Bus riders are less than half as likely as Metro Rail riders to be white, and Metro Rail riders are 30 percent less likely to be Latino than Metro Bus riders."

The MTA says the decisions were economically motivated and adds it were planning it's own review of the decisions anyway.

For more details, links to the letters, documents and statements from all sides, as well as an audio report, visit KPCC.

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