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Planet Hollywood to Close Beverly Hills Outlet

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Struggling restaurant chain Planet Hollywood International Inc. said Thursday it will close its high-profile Beverly Hills restaurant in February as it sheds poorly performing outlets in an effort to emerge from bankruptcy as a profitable company.

The Beverly Hills restaurant had survived an initial round of closures after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in October, but operating restrictions imposed by the city and increased competition from a revitalized Hollywood Boulevard took a toll.

The restaurant has about 50 employees, who were informed of the closure last week.

The closure will leave Planet Hollywood with only two California restaurants, in San Francisco and San Diego. But the chain hopes to open other Southern California eateries, said Chief Executive Robert Earl.

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“We will be announcing a new site within the coming months,” he said. “We have a commitment to having a restaurant in the Los Angeles area.”

Shortly after filing for bankruptcy reorganization in October, the Orlando, Fla.-based chain closed nine restaurants, including its Santa Ana eatery across the street from South Coast Plaza. Planet Hollywood had owned 32 U.S. restaurants before those closures.

Although the company kept the Beverly Hills restaurant open, it complained at the time that city restrictions, such as a prohibition on late-night liquor sales and a ban on tour buses, had hurt business.

Before the restaurant opened at Wilshire Boulevard and Camden Drive, Beverly Hills officials made their rules clear. In addition to the liquor restrictions, there was to be no loud music past 11 p.m. and no live music except for three charity events a year. Patrons would not be allowed to line up along the street.

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The city council also nixed the restaurant’s original design, which included bold colors, in favor of a more subdued exterior, and it rejected the chain’s logo--a colorful globe with large shooting stars.

While the Beverly Hills Planet Hollywood was not the chain’s first, it opened in 1995 with major fanfare and a gala party that virtually took over Rodeo Drive. Despite backing from such celebrities as Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, who received stock in return for promotional work, many of the chain’s restaurants struggled with declining sales.

Planet Hollywood’s stock, which traded as high as $28.50, closed Thursday at 6.8 cents a share, unchanged, in over-the-counter trading. The stock was removed in August from the New York Stock Exchange.

Times staff writer Paul Lieberman contributed to this story.


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