Tenant construction underway at Boulevard shops, some opening

| October 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

Two new leases have been signed for spaces in the Larchmont Mercantile complex, according to a source at Rare Public Relations.

Midland, which will carry women’s and kids’ clothing, accessories, apothecary items and some books, will be located at 138 N. Larchmont Blvd. Sichuan Kitchenette, a new grab-and-go café serving ready-to-eat Sichuan Chinese food, will reside at 144 N. Larchmont Blvd.

INTERIOR IMPROVEMENTS under construction for new Larchmont Mercantile tenant.

Inside at least three previously leased storefronts, tenant improvements are underway. There is construction at: Velvet by Graham and Spencer (146 N. Larchmont Blvd.); Boba the Great (142 N. Larchmont Blvd.); and a space next to Hidden Jeans, (130 N. Larchmont Blvd.). Hidden Jeans opened Oct. 22.

From a source at Commercial Asset Group, we heard that construction will begin across the street in January for clothier Feherty Brand (219 N. Larchmont Blvd., the last home of Pickett Fences, just south of Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese).

We also learned that — at the wine and cheese store — the search is narrowing for a new wine buyer to replace Simon Cocks.

Village Pizzeria

As many in the neighborhood may know by now, Larchmont Boulevard’s top-notch and longtime pizza place, Village Pizzeria, is under new ownership. The founding owner, Steve Cohen, sold the pizza restaurant in July 2022. (He and wife Nancy still live in Larchmont Village.)

PERSONAL MEMORABILIA assembled during six decades by Village Pizzeria founder Steve Cohen covers the walls.

Last month, we sat down with new operator Scot Ruggles, one of the five new partners in the venture, to find out what the quintet has in mind for its new business and how things are going so far.

Ruggles, who has been a football coach, actor and producer for the past 15 years, said he and Ruby Javed joined as minority owners after the original deal was completed.

Amy Saxon, Frank Grillo and producer Jeff Bowler are the other owners, according to Saxon, with whom we texted and spoke by telephone.

Sold in July 2022

In the summer of 2021, former owner Cohen, exhausted by how the pandemic had affected the business, posted his interest in selling on Instagram. He and his wife Nancy opened Village Pizzeria 26 years ago. Jeff Bowler, said Cohen, responded several days after the post, expressing interest in buying the restaurant.

Cohen said his family agreed to proceed with a sale because the purchase price and contract limits and guidelines met their expectations. However, the transfer was far from smooth, according to Cohen. The escrow did not close until July 18, 2022.

Cohen also told us that, as of May 31, 2022, he no longer has been involved.

STEVE COHEN (center) meets Village Pizzeria potential new owners in August 2021, from left: Guy Narduli, Bret Saxon, Cohen, Jeff Bowler and Frank Grillo. Photo courtesy of Amy Saxon

For the past several months, the new team had been “getting game plans together,” Ruggles told the Chronicle last month, and they now have their full team. “From this day on, I think you’ll really just see us go where we want to go. We’re excited to have the neighborhood and everybody be a part of it.” He added, “The previous owner… had done a great job, obviously. This place is well known.”

And what does the team plan to do? “I think we’re going to start expanding delivery,” Ruggles said. The group plans to expand the delivery radius and use delivery apps.

As far as recipes go, the new owners are sticking to the tried and true. “Everything’s the same… same pizza chef. I’m sure there’ll be a couple things tweaked and changed. But, for the most part, it’s served as is,” Ruggles stated.


And will the place continue to look familiar to longtime patrons? The Cohens had collected, over a lifetime, great photos and memorabilia, which cover the walls at Village Pizzeria. When asked if those items would be returned to Nancy and Steve, Amy Saxon responded, “The restaurant wouldn’t be the same without the fun customer photos and memorabilia, so part of the purchase deal was that it all stays for so long as we own the restaurant.”

Cohen subsequently told the Chronicle: “It’s not true that my photos and memorabilia stay for as long as the new owners want. These are my items, and the purchase agreement specifically says that my memorabilia is not amongst the purchased assets.”

Cohen sent us an excerpt from the “Asset Purchase Agreement” signed by all parties back in November 2021, and the document specifically states that what is purchased does not include “(a) any… decorations, artwork and photographs; … (d) all clocks, select beer neon signs, and memorabilia including but not limited to, the Budweiser Guitar, Budweiser Olympic (five rings), Heineken Los Angeles, Budweiser Los Angeles Dodgers, (tin logos, puzzles, Lundy’s bun pan tray, subway handrail, roller skates in case).”

Cohen says it is his hope that his personal collectables will be returned soon, as they represent his family’s history. He has collected photographs, neon signs, sports memorabilia and more long before opening his first pizza place in San Francisco. He said he and his family support the new owners in establishing their own history, saying, “I’m quite sure they can adorn the walls with plenty of their own experiences… rather than keeping ours. It’s a new day and new ownership… I’d like my items back now.”

Though there are clearly some issues that need to be worked out, Ruggles, who, as mentioned, came on after the original agreements were made, seemed unaware of any controversy when he spoke with the Chronicle. He told us that he and his associates plan to be on the Boulevard for a long time.

Everybody knows
your name

Ruggles said, “It’s such a great part of Los Angeles… Eventually, I think we’d like to have a new grand opening where people can meet everybody.” He envisions a “Cheers mentality — everybody knows your name — that personal touch where you know people by name and can really cater to the regulars and be loyal to the people who are loyal to you.”

Ruggles said, “We want to continue what Steve and his family did here… Everybody likes pizza, and we want to serve pizza with a smile.”

Right now, the restaurant is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and is open from 3 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, it is open from noon until 8:30 p.m. Said Ruggles, “I think the goal is to be open six days a week and maybe do delivery on Mondays.”

To learn more, go to the restaurant’s Instagram page at @villagepizzeriala or visit villagepizzeria.net.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *