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A Garden Grows in Old Hollywood

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It seems that at least once a year, some brave soul gathers up the courage to make a big investment in good old Hollywood. Despite the myth of Hollywood (swimming pools, movie stars, Hollywood and Vine, Lana Turner at Schwab’s, the Walk of Fame), the sad reality is that stretches of Hollywood Boulevard offer little more than a chance to purchase a cheap souvenir, a slice of pizza and a visit to the Wax Museum. Aside from such landmarks as Musso & Franks--a veritable Energizer Bunny of Tinseltown venues--new places come and go.

This is what makes the Garden of Eden such a bold foray into Hollywood night life. Eden, a new nightclub and restaurant on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, defies all contemporary logic. The lustrous venue is big and expensive, and though just a mere 2 weeks old, there are lines out the door and the place is attracting upscale and Westside clubgoers not often seen in these parts.

Owner David Judaken, who at 27 is among the youngest entrepreneurs to take such a brash step, deserves credit for pulling the whole thing off. The South African-born promoter had to start the project from scratch. The location, which was the Hungry Tiger restaurant in the ‘70s and later, the Ibiza nightclub, had no permits. Within two years, he managed to get all new licenses and permits, something that can usually take much longer.

“It was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish,” Judaken says. “Hollywood is supposed to be the entertainment capital of the world, but our night life is so bankrupt.”

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But not if he can help it. Some $2 million later (thanks to a slew of investors), the Garden of Eden was born, and it’s an extraordinary space from top to bottom. Enlisting the design skills of Margaret O’Brien, who also created the look for such spaces as La Boheme and Monsoon, the 9,000-square-foot venue is literally an oasis in the beleaguered heart of Hollywood. O’Brien made a pilgrimage to Morocco, returning home with hand-crafted fixtures, colorful hand-woven curtains, whimsical chandeliers and ornate bar decorations.

“I wanted the space to be sensual without resorting to the obvious Garden of Eden cliches,” O’Brien says. The only hint of the traditional Garden of Eden myth is a tree made from copper, which is laid into the wall behind a lower-level bar. The sensuality is enhanced by the plastered archways and openings throughout the club--one in particular was even modeled after the greatest sanctuary of all (this must be seen and not printed but we’ll give you a hint: It overlooks the stage area). From the purple-heart mahogany floors to the smooth plaster finish of the walls, the place makes you feel a part of something special. “I wanted the place to flow freely,” Judaken says. “So people can dance wherever they feel like dancing.”

That was exactly the mood on a recent Saturday night. From the moment you step into the club, you’ve landed on the dance floor. The entire first level acts as a dance space, and despite having a stage, a separate supper room and an upstairs VIP lounge, the club uses every inch of space for dancing.

The club also features an outdoor patio, with built-in alcoves for candles laid into the walls, and fresh cut flowers. The effect is stunning, and it’s all enhanced by a giant image of Marilyn Monroe painted onto the side of a neighboring building. You’re reminded all over again of the glamour and the myth of this city, and quite simply, it feels good having a new place to revel in it.

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BE THERE

The Garden of Eden, 7080 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (213) 465-3336. 21 and over, cover varies.


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