A Piece of Valley History

According to today’s Daily News, the current operators of the Sportsmen’s Lodge Restaurant and Banquet Hall in Studio City have been unable to come to an arrangement with the new owners of the land, and thus they will close on December 31. The separately run Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel will remain open. Correction: Sportsmen’s Lodge is staying open. But it isn’t. But it is.

Anyone who has lived in the San Fernando Valley for a while will have attended at least one B’nai Mitzvah or Wedding reception at the lodge. Most of us aren’t old enough to remember fishing there. Still, it has been in the valley forever, operating for 63 years under the current owners, and opened originally in 1914. Folks hearing the news are probably believing it will be torn down, but reading through the lines, I think the reality is not that bad.

The new owners want to do some redevelopment. While they do they planning, they wanted to extend a month to month lease, which would impact the current operation as a banquet facility. The current owner, Richard Weintraub (who bought the property for $51M in 2007) has said he’d like to retain its historic feel while remaking the Sportsmen’s Lodge into upscale restaurants and retail stores. He also wants to upgrade the hotel with mid- to high-end rooms. There are no specific plans, but they have indicated that the Sportsmen’s name will stay forever, and so will the feeling of the property. In particular, he indicated there will be a strong gesture to continue the ponds and the swans.

Should it stay? Should it go? Are we beyond that history of the valley?