A tree grows in Parc bar
(Photo by Jean-Louis Darville)

Parc, a sexy restaurant/lounge where the paparazzi are regularly staked out most nights to catch Britney or Justin coming or going (though the staff won’t breathe a word about what happens inside), was inspired by the kind of elegant, “loft-y” New York boîtes where you can go for oysters and champagne and stay for late-night dancing. Behind the Hollywood hot spot’s low-profile exterior (I actually walked past the door at first), a tree hung with crystal globes grows in the center of the dimly lit dining room; the walls are smoky gray and dotted with mirrors, and etched-glass oil lamps glow on the shiny ebony tables. The music is groovy and familiar without being distracting (it gets decidedly funkier and more dance-oriented after 10:30 p.m.). The small-plate menu — created by Chef J, a Brooklynite who was the personal chef to the chairman of Warner Bros. and the chef of the space’s former occupant, Black Steel — is made for sharing. Well-dressed couples, single industry guys on the prowl and groups of stiletto-clad girlfriends tuck into organic dishes that fuse French and Asian flavors in delicious concoctions like baked sea bass in a black-pepper caramel and stacked eggplant with a miso glaze. The night I dropped in, Chef J came out and shared some artisanal orange cognac with me and my sister (he said it was the “Rolls-Royce” to Grand Marnier’s “Toyota”), but unfortunately he was on his last bottle at the time, so you might just have to make do with a cucumber green-tea cocktail or rose Veuve Cliquot served in a curvy modern flute.

{mosimage}The attention to detail is due to Parc’s owner, Shereen Arazm, who says her m.o. is simple: She creates spaces where she would like to hang out. She opened the mod-chic Concorde (now Shag) in 2003 as a classier alternative to the “cheesy” clubs that were around at the time. As Arazm describes the experience, “You feel like you’re out, and there’s not some shiny-shirt guy sweating on you.”

Arazm, also a partner in the mega-successful Dolce Group, may be the highest-powered female in the world of L.A. nightlife, but at her own establishments, the petite brunette is regularly mistaken for the manager — if she’s lucky.

“Usually it’s the hostess or the waitress,” she says, adding, “It’s shocking to me that it doesn’t even occur to them that I might be the owner. What is this, the ’40s?”

She can’t put her finger on what she brings to her business as a woman. “You mean besides the fact that I’m the only one?” she asks, sipping a latte at Bella Cucina, the Italian restaurant she opened across the street from her Hollywood Boulevard office because she needed a place to eat lunch.

{mosimage}When Arazm opened Geisha House with the Dolce Group in 2004, the media ate up the image of this cute young woman making it in a “man’s world” — to the point where her partners were basically ignored. She recalls with a chuckle, “Lonnie [Moore] said, ‘You know what? I feel like you’re Gwen Stefani and we’re the band!’”

But Arazm has paid her dues — she’s worked in the service industry since she got her first waitress job in Toronto at 18. Waiting tables led to bartending, managing, opening, closing and “doing every job in the house” at places in New York (where she went to acting school for a week and a half) and then L.A., which she has called home since 2000. She says, “Basically, I kept realizing that what I was doing was what I wanted to be doing, and that I needed to make it a career and stop killing myself for everybody else.”

Now 35 and engaged to movie producer Oren Koules, whom she met not at one of her nightclubs but on a flight from Toronto (“total kismet,” she says), Arazm is busily moving into the next phase of her life. She’ll soon have a stepson, and with him will come the more family-oriented Terroni, an Italian eatery modeled after the Canadian spot where she got her first job and co-owned with her former bosses.

Arazm still makes the rounds from Geisha to Shag to Parc, and goes out with her fiancé several times a week, but she seems ready to become what is known inside the biz as a “civilian.” “To be honest with you,” she says, “nine times out of 10 I’m like, can we stay home?”

Parc, 6683 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; open daily 6 p.m.-2 a.m. (323) 465-6200.


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