This Spot Is Where New Restaurants Go to Die, but Owners Keep Trying Their Luck

This Spot Is Where New Restaurants Go to Die, but Owners Keep Trying Their LuckEXPAND
Daniel Kohn

For many, the string of shops and restaurants down West Third Street in Beverly Grove represents a mix of bougie elegance and killer eateries. The strip extending from Crescent Heights to La Cienega houses some of the most popular restaurants in Los Angeles, including staples like Toast, Joan’s on Third, Son of a Gun, the Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya and Toca Madera. Finagling your way into a space here should be a gold mine — especially at 8486 W. Third St. But if recent history has proven anything, it’s a storefront that restaurateurs should avoid, unless they want their spot to flop.

In recent years, the address has served as a revolving door for restaurants: 8486 Chicken & Grill, 3rd Street Station, Smokin' Joint and 8486 Cafe flamed out, and that’s since the turn of the decade. Each received pretty good reviews yet couldn’t sustain momentum to last more than a year.

The space’s last tenant, Link, thought it could beat the curse. When asked about the viability of the location in 2015 (in an interview I conducted that was never published), Link’s owners were confident about the restaurant’s long-term success. They’d been at 8486 for a year and planned to expand to a second location. A local favorite, the gastropub served high-end, California-curated sausages and had a fine beer list to match. As it survived, it blamed mixed-up concepts and poor planning for other restaurants' failure to succeed — rather than it being a cursed location.

“You have Cedars-Sinai, Beverly Center, Beverly Connection right over here,” one of the owners said confidently. “This street is a known destination for great restaurants. We have a concept that could kill it with the lunch and dinner crowd. It’s a matter of getting people in, and it’s been great for happy hour and dinner. But we need to get more of a lunch crowd.”

Within a few weeks of that conversation, the location mysteriously closed indefinitely, with a sign on the door promising Link would return. It didn’t.

What is it about 8486 that’s doomed restaurants? For starters, being centrally located in a busy neighborhood hasn’t correlated with foot traffic. It's located next to big shopping centers, but the folks who shop in those are more likely to dine within each shopping center’s confines. The La Cienega/Third intersection is one of the busiest in the city, especially during rush hour. If you’re stuck in traffic, one might think that hopping out for a quick bite would remedy any rush-hour blues. Nope.

The biggest pitfall any restaurant at that space faces is a critical lack of parking. Whereas locations further east, such as Robata Jinya, have ample room for valet parking, 8486 doesn’t have the same luxury. The compact street space — combined with the adjacent shopping centers — and minimal if any parking on La Cienega doesn’t help. Thus, the reliance on support from locals is a tough proposition given the competition.

Nearly two years passed between Link’s demise and a replacement finally settling in: Manpuku, a small Japanese barbecue restaurant that has locations throughout L.A. and Orange County. Similar to the hopefuls that came before, the Japan-based restaurant’s reviews have been above average.

With construction underway, Manpuku doesn't seemed deterred by the ambition of the space. A quick peek reveals a restaurant with big plans to make the most of the location, even if there isn’t a set opening date. An email to Manpuku’s corporate contact address didn’t reveal any new details but promised to keep us abreast of the restaurant’s opening when the time arises.

Will that happen? Will Manpuku break the curse of 8486 W. Third St.? That remains to be seen. With all of the obstacles that its predecessors faced, perhaps having corporate backing — and a little bit of patience — is what it will take to succeed. Time will tell if Manpuku will be the first restaurant in years to survive the obstacles that doomed its predecessors in the not-so-distant past.


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