Cook’s Double Dutch to move to the Eastside
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After 11 years in business caterer and restaurateur Jennie Cook is being forced out of her current Culver City location at 9806 Washington Blvd. by skyrocketing rent. August 8 will be the restaurant’s last day. She will relocate her catering business, Jennie Cooks, to the Silver Lake area (3048 N. Fletcher, near San Fernando) in late August.
‘I’m trying not to call my landlord names in public any more,’ says Cook who recently sent a strongly worded e-mail blast about her current predicament to the 2,100 customers on her e-mail list.
When Cook first opened Cook’s Double Dutch on once sleepy Washington Blvd. her rent was $3,500. She’s currently paying $7,000 and she says her landlord is angling to up her rent to $9,000. Last year she says he refused to renew her lease and she has been dealing with swiftly escalating rent ever since.
‘I mean, seriously, how greedy can one person be?’ asks Cook. ‘He’s asking $5 a square foot and I’m not in that little buzz zone that’s turning into the Grove,’ she says referring to the section of Culver City surrounding the Culver Hotel that houses popular restaurants such as Ford’s Filling Station, Fraiche and Tender Greens.
Cook’s landlord John Byers of Byco Inc. says that Cook is currently paying about 75 percent of market rent and that he’s allowing her to do that since she is renting on a month-to-month basis. ‘I have two tenants that just went in a $5 a square foot,’ Byers says. ‘The situation with Jennie is that she wants to run a catering business, not a retail business like a restaurant and right now she’s paying too much rent for a catering business. No one is holding a gun to her head telling her she has to stay where she is--she can go and find a catering location whenever she wants.’
Which is just what she did. ‘I’ve found a new place and I’m busting a move,’ Cook says, adding that from now on her only business will be wholesale catering (with a focus on sustainable home-style food) and she won’t re-open the restaurant. ‘I’ve had enough. I don’t feel that the world right now is a nice place for independent restaurant owners. My life with my family is way too important. I have three kids, I’ve been married for 30 years, I’m so happy with what I’ve built.’