In the story of Hollywood's ongoing revival, scene-stealers like the $650 million Hollywood and Highland development give rise to the tallest headlines. Farther east, however, cheap rents and safe streets have nurtured a hip shopping district near the Pantages Theatre, and it's growing without a whisper of hype.
What distinguishes this area is that restored historic buildings are incubating trends in style and entertainment. On Yucca Street, a block north of Hollywood Boulevard, film director Sofia Coppola sells her own line of low-slung pants and skinny tops at Heaven 27, situated in a 1935 pink art deco building. Other tenants include Claire Joseph, who designs custom-made women's dresses and day wear, and Lost & Found Etcetera, whose home furnishings evoke a neohippie look.
"So much of retailing has been taken over by chain stores," said Lost & Found Etcetera owner Jamie Rosenthal. "That's what's fun about this street. There's still room here for you to discover on your own." Rosenthal also owns Lost & Found, which specializes in children's clothes.
On Hollywood Boulevard, there's more retro-cool retailing at Star Shoes, purveyor of vintage pumps and well-shaken martinis. Open from 8 p.m. to midnight, the '50s cocktail lounge displays shelves full of dressy heels and purses. Next door, CineSpace is L.A.'s first movie theater-supper club. Located in a 1920s building first owned by the Schwab family, it's striving to become the Hollywood community's center for independent films.
Two good restaurant choices are close at hand. The Hollywood & Vine Diner serves American fare in a restored art deco bar and grill. Chao Praya is one of L.A.'s oldest Thai restaurants, and it now has an Asian import gift shop, Suva, on its second floor.
The trend to renovate and innovate started with the Pantages Theatre, which gave itself a $10 million face-lift before opening The Lion King two years ago. Since then, the show has drawn 20,000 people each week to Hollywood and Vine, setting the neighborhood revival in motion. The foot traffic is significant because, five years ago, Hollywood Boulevard was a scary place.
"What you see now on the eastern end of the boulevard at night is that a lot of people are out walking from club to club," says Kerry Morrison, executive director of the Hollywood Entertainment District. "I can't think of anywhere else in L.A. where you can really do that."
New shops and nightclubs open weekly; the walking crowds thicken. All of this, and not a mall in sight.
Hollywood & Vine Diner. 6263 Hollywood Blvd.; (323) 461-2345.
Suva, in Chao Praya. 6307 Yucca St.; (323) 466-6704.
Shopping and entertainment
CineSpace. 6356 Hollywood; (323) 817-3456.
Claire Joseph. Closed Sun-Mon. 6318 Yucca; (323) 461-7911.
Heaven 27. Closed Sun. 6316 Yucca; (323) 871-9044.
Lost & Found. Closed Sun. 6314 Yucca; (323) 856-0921.
Lost & Found Etcetera. Closed Sun. 6320 Yucca; (323) 856-5872.
Pantages Theatre. 6233 Hollywood; (213) 480-3232.
Star Shoes. 6364 Hollywood; (323) 462-7827.