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Will Culinary Institute Clear Hurdles?

“The Los Angeles Culinary Institute is definitely going to open in September,” says a spokesman for the institute run by Raimund Hofmeister, former executive chef of the Century Plaza Hotel. “LAICI signed an agreement and the sublease. We are already planning the gala opening, and the first class is full.”

But the institute is in the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park, and the Recreation and Parks Department, which oversees the center’s operations, has other ideas. It has issued a cease and desist order. City Councilman Joel Wachs, who chairs the arts, health and humanities committee, says he has a lot of questions before his committee will grant approval.

The main questions concern money. Del Rey Properties, the center’s Burbank-based manager, has said that unless the rent it is charged to operate the city-owned facility is reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars, operations will have to be scaled back. “Our biggest fear,” says Greg Nelson, a spokesman for Wachs, “is that Del Rey Properties would be able to get a good operation going and make lots and lots of profit and the city won’t be sharing in it. If you start multiplying the culinary school fees alone ($13,500 per person for the 18-month program) . . . what we are saying is if you really need the break because there is an operating income problem, no big deal. But, if for one reason or another you’re hiding information on us, and start making a ton of money far beyond what anyone had projected, we’d like to share in it.”

“That place has been jinxed from the beginning,” says LAICA’s spokesman, “but everything that Raimund’s done and the school has done has been totally aboveboard. The permits have been gotten. You have to, you’re dealing with the city.”

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THE ITALIAN WARS: “Il Fornaio is going to let us have four pastas on our Pasadena menu,” says Marvin Zeidler, co-owner of the Broadway Deli in Santa Monica, “and that’s OK because they don’t consider macaroni and cheese a pasta.” Both San Francisco-based Il Fornaio and Broadway Deli are moving into One Colorado Place, the Pasadena shopping center scheduled to open this fall. Il Fornaio, the first to sign a lease at the shopping plaza, has exclusivity over the product line they sell. “There’s nothing unique about it,” says owner Larry Mindel, “if people are going to make a big investment in doing something in a small area like a shopping center. You certainly don’t want Ralph Lauren competing with someone that does the same clothes as Ralph Lauren.”

Meanwhile, Zeidler says he’s sure everything will work out. Broadway Deli has agreed to make and sell only French breads. “We went up and had lunch with Larry Mindel and he’s a real nice guy. We said, ‘Larry, we are down in Southern California, you’ve got to be a little loose.’ In fact the last time I saw Larry, he didn’t have a tie on. So it’s getting better.”

THE LUCKY WHO LUNCH: Now Ol’ Blue Eyes will have somewhere to lunch when he comes in from the Springs. On Oct. 1 Chasen’s will open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. The menu, which is not totally decided, will feature a lot of light and airy dishes; entree prices will range from $11 to $16. “People have been asking all these years, Mrs. Chasen decided what the hell, why not open for lunch?” says a spokeswoman for the restaurant. “There’s a big draw from this area--ICM down the street, a lot of ad and talent agencies--and we’ve got luncheon parties planned already with the Beverly Hills political woman.”

BE PREPARED: Is L’Orangerie going through an identity crisis? “Because of all the ‘gossip’ about L’Orangerie going out of business or being sold (which is untrue), it would be great to set the story straight and let people know that L’Orangerie is enjoying the best business in years and now taking reservations for New Year’s Eve!” This statement comes to you from the Beverly Hills public relations firm of Guttman & Pam, which represents the French restaurant on La Cienega.

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COFFEE THAT COSTS: The latest to climb on the gourmet coffee bandwagon is a Marina del Rey mail-order business called Coffee that Cares, (213) 306-2464, which promotes its beans by promising to donate 20% of its profits to the Los Angeles-based Free Arts for Abused Children and Heal the Bay charities. What they don’t say is that the price of their coffee, $11.90 a pound, is considerably more than twenty percent higher than other gourmet coffees such as, say, Starbucks, which sells for $7.50 to $8.50 per pound.

CHANGES: Trees Restaurant at 440 Heliotrope in Corona del Mar promises that it will pack any item on the menu to go within 10 minutes--and give you a 10% discount as well. “We figure when customers order food to take out, our tables aren’t tied up, we don’t provide a waiter, we don’t wash dishes. So why should they pay as much?” says owner Russell Armstrong. . . . You can now order elegant margaritas at Studio City’s Elegant Tortilla at 11034 Ventura Blvd.--the restaurant finally has a liquor license. . . . Tra Fiori in Old Pasadena, in keeping with European-style dining and service, has taken a European-style vacation and will reopen Sept. 3. . . . Carroll O’Connor has appointed a new manager for his 13-year-old Beverly Hills restaurant and has also announced plans to close the restaurant for repairs. The restaurant will reopen for breakfast on Wednesday. . . . Rockenwagner will reopen for business at its new Santa Monica location at 2435 Main St. on Tuesday. . . . Arby’s restaurants have introduced new light menu sandwiches: All are under 300 calories and are 94% fat-free. There’s also a complete line of salads--served with Weight Watchers salad dressings.


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