Brasserie Vert, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in the Hollywood & Highland Center, closed at the end of last month so Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc. can allocate more resources to the company's catering business in the landmark complex.

"Vert wasn't living up to the expectations as we would have hoped, but it wasn't doing terribly," said Carl Schuster, the chief executive of Wolfgang Puck Catering Inc., the entity that owned Vert. "It was just moving along and being somewhat successful. I hate to close anything but in this case it is probably for the best."

Vert was opened in 2002 after the developer of Hollywood & Highland, TrizecHahn Hollywood LLC, asked Wolfgang Puck to open a mid-level restaurant at the location.

The mid-level concept was one that Wolfgang Puck hadn't explored. Nearly all of the company's restaurants are either upscale dining, including its famous Spago location in Beverly Hills, or they are quick, inexpensive chains such as Wolfgang Puck Express. Vert was the only one of its kind, Schuster said.

Vert never reached the level of renown that some of Puck's other ventures have achieved.

The restaurant empire's catering business, which maintains operations in some of the largest entertainment venues around the U.S., is the exclusive caterer for the Kodak Theater and recently signed an agreement to continue in that position through 2017.

The decision to abandon the concept came after the announcement that Cirque du Soleil had signed a contract to perform at the Kodak Theater in the Hollywood & Highland complex starting in 2009. The deal promises more work for Wolfgang Puck's Catering business, which occupies the entire fifth floor of the Hollywood & Highland complex.

Public American

American Apparel Inc. finally closed it deal to go public on Dec. 12, a year after it was bought by "blank check" company Endeavor Acquisition Corp. for $385 million.

And investors mostly shrugged.

The company, which now trades under the ticker APP on the American Stock Exchange, closed at $13.85 on Jan 3. That was $1.75 off its close of $15.60 on the day the deal was completed.

Most of the action in the stock actually tookplace a year ago when the transaction was first announced. Endeavor had been trading below $8 in December 2006, then quickly shot up to nearly $12. It had another run up in November and early December as investors anticipated the closure.

The T-shirt company, founded in 1998, is known for manufacturing its products in Los Angeles for its 175 retail stores in 13 countries and for selling to distributors and screen printers.

The acquisition is seen as an opportunity for company expansion. The company has announced plans to increase its number of stores to 800, which will bring it closer to the number of Abercrombie & Fitch stores.

American Apparel has already seen extensive growth last year. In the third quarter, American Apparel reported same store sales growth of 27 percent. In the first nine months of the year, it reported sales of $275 million.

Dov Charney, who admits to having slept with a number of his female employees and has been subject to numerous workplace lawsuits most of which have been dropped or settled will continue as chief executive and will receive 37.3 million shares of the company through the merger. The other stockholders will receive $67.9 million in cash.

Management, factory workers, retail employees, and other full time, active employees of American Apparel who have been with the company for more than one year will receive about 250 shares of stock for each year of employment.

Sports Wear

In his 37 years in the sportswear industry, Mark Mertens has had to reinvent his company several times. And once again, he is ready for a change.

During its history, Mertens' Vernon-based company, A4, has manufactured sportswear apparel for licensing agreements with companies such as Champion, Converse, Hang Ten, Wilson, and the NBA.

Last year he launched several of his own lines of low-cost sporting apparel to create a brand presence in the industry. In May, he introduced his first line of A4 men's clothing. And then in November, he introduced two lines of women's apparel, including one called Kristiina By A4, made with organic materials.

Before he launched his own lines, Mertens had grown A4 to about $30 million in sales, and felt like he finally had the liberty to create his own line.

"We can afford to start a business like this," he said. "I don't have to force it."

When A4 was just getting off the ground, Mertens landed a deal with Champion to manufacture their active wear. He now makes apparel for sports teams, from little league to the major leagues. He has 160 employees and next month is expanding into 110,000 square feet by taking more space next to his current facility.

He expects his new A4 lines alone to generate $10 million in sales this year.

Staff reporter Sarah Filus can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235, or at sfilus@labusinessjournal.com .

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