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Encounter, LAX Theme Building restaurant, closes with no plan in sight

One thing you may not be able to do this year: Grab a bite at Encounter restaurant at the free-standing Theme Building inside Los Angeles International Airport. It has closed.

Whatever new restaurant concepts are being considered and when those ideas might be presented to airport officials is unknown, an airport spokeswoman said Tuesday. Westfield Concession Management, which brought tony eateries such as Umami Burger and 800 Degrees to LAX's expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal amid a splashy rollout last year, is in charge of coming up with those concepts and ideas.

Why is L.A.'s beloved 900 tons of steel topped with 135-foot-tall parabolic arches standing empty? Apparently we just didn't love it enough.

L.A. World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey told the L.A. Times in late December that a new restaurant operator is being sought but added this downbeat assessment of the building's allure:

"The problem is, it was built when bringing your family out to have dinner and watch the airplanes was a cool thing to do," she said. "Passengers [now] won't leave the terminals to have dinner there because it's unpredictable how long it'll take them to get through security again."

Westfield won the contract in 2012 to develop and manage a variety of restaurants, bars and retail stores at the airport, a contract that includes the Theme Building. Encounter closed quietly after operator Delaware North Co.'s joint-venture contract ran out in December.

One bright spot: The observation deck is still open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The building, declared an L.A. cultural and historical building in 1992, was designed by Paul R. Williams, Pereira & Luckman and Robert Herrick Carter.

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com
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