Women-Only Club Can't Work Out New Lease, Will Close Down

by Deborah Belgum

In the world of L.A. health clubs, it's been an institution one of Southern California's few all-women facilities. But after 13 years of operation, L.A. Woman Inc. is closing its doors at the end of the month.

The club, a subsidiary of L.A. Fitness, has lost its lease at 11650 Santa Monica Blvd., near Barrington Avenue.

"People are very, very sad," said the club's general manager, Jackie Farreria. "Some people have been coming here for 13 years. This is part of their life."

Farreria said that about 20 percent of the 600 members needed to exercise in an all-female environment because of religious constraints that require them to keep their heads covered or not mingle with men while exercising.

The women can transfer their memberships to other L.A. Fitness locations. But none of the L.A. Fitness clubs in the area is dedicated exclusively to women.

Flip-Flopping Burgers

A new buyer is negotiating to purchase the Hamburger Hamlet chain from troubled Prandium Inc. after talks collapsed with Othello Holding Corp.

Spokesman Robert Carl wouldn't identify the interested party, but said Prandium still expects to file a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. A majority of the company's 600 bondholders must approve the filing.

The company, which also operates Koo Koo Roo, a fast-food chicken chain, and Chi-Chi's, a Mexican-food chain, has been mired in $28.8 million in debt and defaulted last year on long-term loans held with Foothill Capital Corp.

Prandium sold its 95-unit El Torito eateries to Long Beach-based Acapulco Mexican Restaurants Inc. for $129 million in 2000.

Once Prandium reorganizes and establishes lower interest rates for its loans, the company wants to remodel its existing Chi-Chi's and Koo Koo Roo restaurants and develop new eateries.

Bowling Them Over

The small gift shop at the Hollywood Bowl is getting a makeover with a very small budget.

The store, which sells CDs, educational books and musical instruments, hasn't been renovated in at least five years. Architect Sat Garg of AkarStudios in Santa Monica is redesigning the store's interior with a budget that is under $20,000 with new colors, new logo and a new layout.

The store will also beef up its retail selection, including picnic items, more Hollywood Bowl-related apparel, and dishware.

Suit Dropped

Shareholder lawsuits against Guess Inc. filed last year both in Los Angeles and Delaware have been dismissed.

A class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles claiming Guess officials made false and misleading statements concerning the company's financial condition was dismissed in March. It follows the dismissal in February of a shareholder suit filed by Susan Goldman in the Court of Chancery for the State of Delaware alleging insider trading and other misdeeds by company officials.

Guess officials declined comment.

Staff reporter Deborah Belgum can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 228, or at dbelgum@labusinessjournal.com.

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