The North Hollywood-Toluca Lake Patch chronicles the long, sad story of North Hollywood's historic Phil's Diner, which closed its doors yesterday after reopening only eight months ago. Casey Hallenbeck purchased the 1920s-era Phil's, possibly the state's oldest dining car, in 1998. At that time, construction on the NoHo Red Line subway station made it necessary to move the diner from its Chandler Blvd. location. The Community Redevelopment Agency, working on remaking the area around the NoHo station, offered Hallenback a spot in developer JH Snyder's NoHo Commons mixed-use development. It took a decade(!) for the CRA to find space at the Commons for the dining car. The CRA said they'd give Hallenbeck (by then, working with his wife Malissa) $475,000 of the $1.025 million needed for the Phil's relocation; the Hallenbecks got a loan for the rest, but neither the bank nor the CRA would release their money first. Snyder, by then the owner of the land on which the diner would reside, agreed to help, but only if the Hallenbacks gave them full ownership of Phil's and agreed to pay all the construction costs. The Hallenbacks agreed and the couple tells the Patch that paid $70,000 for repairs after a company hired by the developer, without a contract, dropped the dining car from a crane.
When the restaurant finally opened in April with a healthy diner concept, construction crews were busy building the $7.5 million Laemmle 7 movie theater, which somewhat ironically opens tomorrow (pdf). The Hallenbecks say the Laemmle construction crew confused potential patrons who thought Phil's was still under construction.
That's a long list of woes, but some Patch commenters say the Hallenbecks should have waited it out until the Laemmle opened. Others say it was the price of their food (six dollar malts!) and subpar service (they have three stars on Yelp) that led to the closure. The couple claims Snyder rushed them to open, even though they wanted to wait for the theater--they add that they had no idea that buying a little diner would turn into the The Money Pit II.
The CRA tells the Patch that they hope Snyder will get another operator for the restaurant soon.
· Phil's Diner Closes After Less Than Eight Months [NoHo-Toluca Lake Patch]
· JH Snyder Archives [Curbed LA]