Romance is in the air

Tim Willert

On a clear day, Adel Luzuriaga can see all the way to Catalina

from her hilltop property at the end of North Brand Boulevard.

It’s a spot she holds close to her heart, a place where she can


catch a sunset, share a picnic lunch or star gaze with that special


“It’s very romantic,” Luzuriaga, a Glendale Realtor, said this

week. “It’s like being in your own little world.”


As Valentine’s Day approaches, the Leader sought out the most

romantic places and activities in Burbank, Glendale and the


People’s tastes, like their relationships, vary from couple to

couple. But one thing’s for sure: The Castaway Restaurant and

Catering Center on Harvard Road in Burbank, and Taylor’s Steakhouse

on Foothill Boulevard in La Canada Flintridge, received high marks

for romantic atmosphere.


The Castaway, nestled away in the Verdugo Mountains, offers a

scenic view of the San Fernando Valley, and features a singing waiter

and photographer to capture birthdays, anniversaries and other

special occasions.

“I just like the whole atmosphere,” said Joey Valle, a 25-year-old

computer technician from Eagle Rock. “It’s a nice little secluded


Joining Valle for dinner Wednesday night was Elvia Corrales, a Cal


State Northridge student celebrating her 22nd birthday.

“It’s definitely very romantic,” Corrales said between sips of her

wine. “He has good taste.”

To which Valle replied: “I think she’s a very special person,

which is why I brought her here. She’s no average Joe.”

If you haven’t made reservations for Feb. 14, don’t bother. The

place has been sold out for nearly two weeks, according to manager

Saeed Fazeli.


When her husband wants to take her “some place romantic,” Montrose

native Lori Flagg -- a self-described “red meat and potatoes kind of

girl” -- opts for Taylor’s at 901 Foothill Blvd.

“It’s got comfortable booths and linen table cloths and the

lighting is subdued, which means I always look good,” Flagg joked.

“We really like to have a nice, quiet dinner where the service is

good and you feel like you’re being treated special.”

Taylor’s is also a favorite of La Canada Flintridge Councilwoman

Deborah Orlik, who prefers the intimate lighting and old-fashioned

booths “so you can sit close to someone.”

Burbank Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Bowers swears

by Arnie Morton’s of Chicago at 3400 W. Olive Ave. in Burbank.

“The prime rib is to die for, and the crab cakes melt in your

mouth,” said Bowers, who is married to Burbank Police Capt. Gordon


But it’s the chocolate souffle for two that Bowers finds romantic.

“Chocolate is kind of a romantic thing, and this is just a

fabulous concoction,” she said.

Bowers’ idea of a perfect Valentine’s Day in Burbank would include

a picnic at Stough Canyon Nature Center, followed by dinner at Arnie

Morton’s and an after-dinner drink at The Castaway.

A romantic day for Dottie and Rob Sharkey of Glendale would

include a hike at Deukmejian Wilderness Park in La Crescenta,

followed by a picnic next to a stream.

“It’s romantic because we’re alone in the forest,” Dottie Sharkey

said. “It’s something we can do together.”

Brand Park at 1601 W. Mountain St. features a Victorian gazebo and

Japanese Tea Garden, and is a popular place for couples to take

engagement and wedding photos.

“It’s really pretty and very romantic,” said Monique Herrera, a

community services coordinator with the city of Glendale who books

the park for photo shoots.

“It is definitely the most popular park in Glendale.”

For Councilman Dave Weaver, who proposed to wife Linda in Griffith

Park in 1967, Valentine’s Day has always been a family affair.

But this year, for the first time since their grown children were

born, Dave and Linda are on their own.

In addition to dinner at Tam O’ Shanter in Los Feliz, Weaver is

planning to buy his wife tropical flowers.

“To the women, it means a lot to give them something in addition

to taking them out to dinner,” Weaver said. “I could care less if she

gives me anything.”


According to a new survey by the National Retail Federation, the

average man is planning to spend $125.96 on Valentine’s Day. Women,

the survey found, plan to spend $38.22.

More than 80% of Americans will give their spouse or significant

other a greeting card, and 58.7% of couples surveyed will celebrate

with an evening out. In other gift categories, 65.3% of men plan to

send flowers, 32.3% will give candy and 21.1% plan to surprise their

loved one with jewelry, the most coveted Valentine’s Day gift of all.

Glendale school board President Chuck Sambar is going one step

further. Sambar and his new bride, Lois, will spend Valentine’s Day

in the Virgin Islands.

“We wanted to go some place warm, beautiful and serene,” Sambar

said this week. “We both love the water, so we’ll do some diving.”

Sambar considers himself a romantic, and enjoys showering the

woman he loves with flowers, candy and champagne.

“There is much beauty and grace in being romantic,” he said. “To

me, every day is Valentine’s Day. It’s beautiful to be alive, to be

loved and to be wanted.”

The Sambars aren’t the only couple who will be out of the country

on Valentine’s Day.

Orlik and her boyfriend of two years are planning a trip to Baja,

Mexico, where rest, relaxation and romance are in order.

For those with expensive tastes, there are plenty of helicopters,

planes and limousines to charter.

Short trips are popular this year, especially since Feb. 14 falls

on a Friday and the following Monday is the President’s Day holiday.

“The resorts and the hotels use romance as a marketing tool to

draw folks in,” said Rhonda Holguin, general manager of Montrose


The travel agency sold out a three-day cruise to Mexico, as well

as a romantic rendezvous at the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel in

Pasadena that includes champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries,

breakfast in bed and a butler-drawn bath.

Weekend getaways to Las Vegas and several Santa Barbara

bed-and-breakfast inns are still available, Holguin said.


Bowers is among those interviewed who forbids gifts on Valentine’s

Day and her wedding anniversary.

“We have such a wonderful marriage, and a gift to me seems

superfluous,” she said. “Every day together to me is a gift.”

But that doesn’t keep her husband from giving her roses anyway,

she said.

“He’s very romantic,” she said. “You wouldn’t think it, but he’s

very romantic.”

Orlik is another who frowns on the commercial nature of

Valentine’s Day.

“Romance doesn’t have anything to do with stuff you buy,” she said

this week. “Romance has to do with having a conversation with someone

and looking into their eyes. You can’t buy that.”

Others, though, believe that gifts make the day memorable.

Leslyn Ray, manager of Giggles Nightclub on Brand Boulevard and

past president of the Downtown Glendale Merchants Assn., claims to be

a “huge romantic,” and loves giving gifts to close friends and her

boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.

“I enjoy flowers, candy and fine wine, but I like to go even

further and surprise that special someone with a short trip to San

Francisco or Las Vegas,” Ray said. “Does it get any more romantic

than that?”

Flagg’s husband, Charles, hates to dance, but that didn’t stop him

from surprising his wife with ballroom dance lessons three years ago.

“He’d rather have a hot ice pick stuck in his ear, but he did it

for me,” she said. “It was the sweetest thing my husband ever did for


Ah, true love.