Dining is important business in Los Angeles. For restaurateur Brad Johnson, success in fine dining affords him access to the pulse of Hollywood. Johnson, 49, a native New Yorker, migrated West in 1989 and opened the Roxbury, an immensely popular eatery and dance club that was immortalized in the movie A Night at the Roxbury. His follow-up contributions to L.A.’s nightlife — Georgia and The Sunset Room — helped spark the revival of the Hollywood business district. These days, his passion for dining is invested in downtown L.A., where he manages Windows restaurant.
Entertaining visitors, Johnson avoids the beaten-track, he says. “I’ve taken friends to classes at Power Yoga (www.power yoga.com), along the Malibu coast to dine outside, and to The Ivy or the Newsroom where you might find a fair number of African Americans in the [film] industry networking.” There’s also Chinatown and the Farmer’s Market on Main Street in Santa Monica on Sundays, he adds. Johnson also manages V at the Venetian in Las Vegas, a short jaunt away. “Jobs and people are always turning over so there’s a constant search for what the next thing is,” he says, “since people in L.A. define themselves by where they go and who they’re sitting next to it’s important to know what place that is at any given time.
Obviously the entertainment industry is the hub of the wheel,” says Johnson, “as for emerging opportunities, L.A.’s gone through its cycle. There are a lot of downtown developments going up and fueling the construction industry, but we’re at the tail end of that boom.” The Staples Center (www.staplescenter.com), The Museum of Contemporary Art, (www.moca.org), and Los Angeles’s Music Center have principal roles in casting downtown as a hip destination for sports and fine and performing arts attractions. LA Live, a sports and nightlife venue containing the Grammy Museum, an ESPN studio, bars, and bistros, should confirm L.A.’s new ‘it’ address when it opens next year. “L.A.’s an easy place to live though it’s getting more expensive and congested,” says Johnson. “It’s still a forward-thinking city.” Visit www.lacvb.com, the official site of the L.A. Convention and Visitors Bureau.
AROUND TOWN : LOS ANGELES
The Roosevelt (7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 800-950-7667; www.hollywoodroosevelt.com) “is trendy and the crowd tends to be younger. There’s a very lively outdoor pool/bar scene, particularly at night, so you have to be up for that experience.”
The Sunset Tower Hotel (8358 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; 800-225-2637; www.sunset towerhotel.com) is “much more low-key, a little more exclusive, and a bit more expensive.” Its art deco architecture hints at the elegance of its suites that offer views of Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills.
“The unobstructed 360-degree penthouse view from Windows (1150 South Olive St., Los Angeles; 213-746-1554; www.windowsla.com) is as luscious as the Petit Filet and Australian Lobster Tail or Bone in Rib Eye dishes the restaurant serves up, both specialties of this steak house and martini bar situated downtown near the Staples Center.
Hal’s (1349 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; 310-396-3105; www.halsbarandgrill.com) is a sleek bar and grill that’s