By JESSICA TOLEDANO
The Westwood dining scene is going through another change, with California Pizza Kitchen Inc. planning to open a new restaurant at the site of Mario's at 1001 Broxton Ave.
Mario's, a Westwood landmark for 35 years, is closing its doors Sept. 1 after years of declining business. Owner Anna Maria Angelini said she plans to concentrate her efforts on the Mario's in Santa Monica, which she opened on the Third Street Promenade six years ago.
"It has been a struggle in Westwood for a long time," said Angelini. "I am not going to miss it."
California Pizza Kitchen, however, is betting on a Westwood revival. It plans to open a new restaurant on the Mario's site sometime next year.
"We have considered Westwood for a long time," said Sarah Goldsmith, vice president of marketing and public relations for Los Angeles-based California Pizza Kitchen. "It is a great spot for us to be positioned. There is somewhat of a resurgence of new business going into Westwood. With the university, the movies, the businesses on Wilshire and the residential community, there is a huge draw."
Developer Ira Smedra is planning to develop the 450,000-square-foot Village Center at the northeast end of the village. The $106 million project would add new restaurants, retail stores and movie theaters.
Also, Regent Properties Inc. wants to build a Westwood Marketplace at the west end of the village. The Marketplace will hold retail stores and a Mann movie complex.
California Pizza Kitchen is not the only high-profile restaurant moving into Westwood. Seattle-based Palomino Euro Bistro and Eurochow based in Beverly Hills are scheduled to open at the end of this year.
Fans of the Westwood Mario's, meanwhile, had better act soon if they want to dine there one last time. Reservations are already booked solid from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on its last night, Sept. 1.
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