Bel Air Bar & Grill Now Open for Business
Valentine’s Day approaches and all thoughts turn to… Where can we go for dinner? You might try the recently reopened Bel Air Bar & Grill, on Sepulveda Blvd. at Moraga, at the foot of—you guessed it—Bel Air.
Until a year or so ago, the Bel Air Bar & Grill resided in a rather rustic, 1940s era building reminiscent of a farmhouse.
Now the neighborhood favorite has a hip new look to go with its name. And it’s a sustainable building, registered for a USGBC LEED Silver rating. Just as important, this being West L.A.: It has parking.
The project wasn’t easy. The BAB&G, as we affectionately call it, is only part of a two-building complex. It’s connected to a small office building; and while portions of the original restaurant were preserved, the office building was actually replaced. Killefer Flammang’s attractive and efficient building design maximized the space. The new combined footprint was 13,428 sq. ft. The property, however, was only 15,036 sq. ft.—a rather tight squeeze, not just for the finished buildings but for all the heavy equipment and materials needed to construct them.
The 405 Freeway widening project, the Road to Carmageddon, was going on right across the street, making traffic on Sepulveda difficult, and this in turn limited available crew parking and the times of day deliveries could be made. And, as always, the need to foresee and forestall neighborhood concerns about noise, road blockages and other inconveniences remained a constant. The MATT Team, architects and owner worked hard to make it work—and succeeded. Careful planning and execution of the job, meticulous scheduling and sequencing of logistics, tasks, trades and equipment, cooperation with neighbors, inspectors and agencies, and close collaboration among all concerned helped ensure project success. In fact, not only was the project completed 4 weeks ahead of schedule; the neighbors were pleased with the process and the outcome, and many are now regular customers of the Bel Air Bar & Grill.
So what, exactly, was the outcome? Actually, it was a three-fer.
First, the restaurant: The dining room, bar and kitchen were expanded by 2,200 sq. ft. Blending luxurious finishes, careful workmanship and sophistication without snobbery, the restaurant’s “modern rustic” interior integrates “the old”—an existing fireplace (which burns denatured ethanol) of warm brick, for example—with “the new,” including floors of dark, orthogonally laid oblong tile and, in the bar, quietly neutral-toned stone in a herringbone pattern; wooden ceilings of sawn planks and beams; and furnishings that are attractive, comfortable and inviting.
Enlarged by 50%, the now 6,000 sq. ft. restaurant received nearly half a million dollars’ of state-of-the-art food service equipment.
A new feature is a second floor dining room, the “Sunset Room,” which, at 1,100 sq. ft., nicely accommodates meetings and weddings and other special occasions. The Sunset Room has its own fireplace and a large west-facing outdoor patio with a view of the Getty Museum.
Where, you might ask, did the space come from for the Sunset Room? It sits at the top of a glass stairway (an elevator’s also available) at the juncture of the restaurant and the second main element of the project, the office building. The original one-story, 6,500 sq. ft. office building has now been replaced with a new two-story, 7,500 sq. ft. office building, which adjoins the restaurant. The office building is designed to flood the interior spaces with natural light.
To get to either the restaurant or the offices, you enter via a shared two-story lobby whose beautiful glass curtain walls—patterned in a profusion of the bougainvilleas that grow so lusciously in Southern California—are the new building’s signature element.
Created by New York City-based artist Amanda Weil, the striking display can be enjoyed inside, by office or restaurant visitors; or out, by passersby. Romantically backlit in the evening, it invites entry with a glowing invitation both welcoming and intriguing.
Whether you’re going for a restaurant rendezvous or an office appointment, you’re going to need to park. Fortunately, parking is the third part of the three-fer. Below the office building is one level of below grade parking and one level of at grade parking, providing 35 parking spaces for both office tenants and restaurant patrons.
As if all this weren’t impressive enough, let’s talk sustainability. (It’s said, in some corners, that the satisfaction of eating at an environmentally conscious establishment can counterbalance some of the concerns about caloric intake. So go ahead and have dessert.) The Bel Air Bar & Grill is on its way to receiving LEED Silver certification, pending final approval by the U.S. Green Building Council. BAB&G has lots of energy efficient features. Its 99 photovoltaic rooftop panels generate 35,160 kWh for the building’s grid-tied solar electric power system.
Both the restaurant and the office building also benefit from LEED Enhanced Commissioning for their mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, which means that they’re tuned and maintained to function efficiently for the Bel Air Bar & Grill’s specific operating and non-operating hours and functions. (In other words, the systems will help conserve energy by, for example, adjusting lighting and temperature levels depending on whether the restaurant’s open or not.)
Whether or not you ever went to the “old” Bel Air Bar & Grill, you’ll enjoy the new edition. Give yourself a treat and go!
The Bel Air Bar & Grill is brought to you by:
662 Sepulveda LLC – Owner
Killefer Flammang Architects – Architect
Ralph Gentile Architects – Interior Designer, Restaurant
MATT Construction – General Contractor