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Exchange around the corner

Restaurant owner hopes to help anchor a burgeoning arts-and-entertainment district.

January 06, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com

Two years after Chuy's Baja Mexican Restaurant closed, Glendale resident Petros Gumrikyan is proposing to breathe new life into the corner of Maryland and Wilson avenues, just off Brand Boulevard.

Gumrikyan plans to open Pierre's Garden, a French-American restaurant with live music and a full bar on the former Chuy's site in the Glendale Exchange. Pending approvals from the city, Gumrikyan said he hopes to host his first customers in two or three months.

"I've always wanted a place close to Brand Boulevard and Maryland," Gumrikyan said.

A Glendale resident since he was a toddler, Gumrikyan helped manage Sis Palace, a banquet hall in Tujunga, and later operated a restaurant and bar in Orange County.

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Pierre's Garden would spring to life as other plans are in the works for the neighborhood. The city is pushing to transform the area into an arts-and-entertainment district, with plans for a nearby Museum of Neon Art and other attractions.

Across the street from Pierre's Garden, developer Marc Nathanson and theater operator Greg Laemmle have said they want to build a mixed residential-and-retail development with 40 artist live-work lofts, street-level retail and a movie theater complex featuring independent and foreign films. Nathanson and Laemmle have yet to formally submit plans for the site, now home to the Panda Inn restaurant and a city parking lot.

But the Exchange has struggled. Chuy's and the storefront next to it, the former site of Excelsior Pro Beauty, are vacant. Mann Theatre's 10-screen cineplex at the Exchange is expected to close this year.

In a permit application with the city, Pierre's Garden architect Garo Nazarian wrote the proposed restaurant would help "reactivate" the corner, pointing out that I"several businesses in the area or on the site have either failed or moved to other cities. It is very important to attract an anchor tenant that can spark a new wave of attraction to this site."

Gumrikyan said he hopes to stay open for the late crowd, and will see what the city's expectations are at a Jan. 12 hearing for a use permit.

He said that when he is on site, former customers of Chuy's inquire about his plans.

"Some old customers come by and say they are excited," Gumrikyan said. "It is a convenient place and they live close by."

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