The Business Journal salutes industry standouts for bringing welcome relief to the hospitality sector.


Christine Deschaine, 50

Principal, Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura Inc.

Christine Deschaine credits much of her success to assertiveness.

A principal at Lee & Associates-LA North/Ventura Inc., a commercial real estate firm in Sherman Oaks, Deschaine locates and secures appropriate restaurant tenants for commercial landlords.

Over the past three years, the veteran broker boasts of having negotiated long-term leases valued at more than $60 million and totaling more than 150,000 square feet.

Among the eating establishments she has put in place are Barney’s Beanery, Pinkberry and Crepe Maker at the Burbank Collection, a mixed-use development in downtown Burbank, as well as the Fish Grill at Brentwood Place, a shopping center on the Westside.

She estimates about 85 percent of the potential restaurant tenants she approaches end up signing on. She attributes that high rate to two primary factors: the good demographics of the areas she represents and the fact that she doesn’t easily give up.

“You can’t sit back and let things happen, you have to be assertive,” she said. “If you don’t really have a passion for putting the deal together, you could lose the transaction because of disinterest. It can be challenging because many tenants are very specific about the demographics they want.”

The process – which can take as long as eight months – usually begins with brainstorming sessions during which clients express their needs. Deschaine generally contributes her own ideas, helping the developer or landlord articulate a vision of what sort of tenant would work. Then she goes out and finds them.

“We get hold of the restaurants directly, because we have relationships with them, or we get hold of their broker to set up a tour,” she said. “It’s all about connecting with people and figuring out how to facilitate everyone’s needs. It’s about connecting with cities, developers, contractors, tenants and lenders.”

Bill Tucker, managing member of Tucker Investment Group LLC, a Calabasas-based retail developer that Deschaine has represented, said he believes he knows the secret to her success.

“Christine is more than a numbers person. She also has a humanistic quality she brings to transactions that help facilitate them. She’s very effective, very personable and I consider her one of the top brokers I’ve worked with,” he said.

Deschaine didn’t always see herself as a real estate broker. Born in Farmington Hills, Mich., she came out West to attend the University of Nevada, where she received a business degree in 1982. Then she moved to Los Angeles with the intention of going to law school. After being accepted to three schools, however, the future broker changed her mind.

“I decided I really didn’t want to be a lawyer,” she said. “I was done with school; I wanted to go to work.”

After stints as a marketing consultant and asset manager, and working in retail acquisitions, Deschaine went to work for Sommer-Broida Commercial Brokerage in Santa Monica, for which she participated in the early 1990s rejuvenation of the Third Street Promenade.

Among her clients is Champion Development Group, developer of the Burbank Collection and Brentwood Place. Other clients include Kennedy Wilson International, CIM Group and Whittier Trust Co.

When she’s not working, Deschaine is an avid bicyclist, traveler and philanthropist.

“I love this because it’s a people business. If I weren’t a broker, I’d be doing non-profit fundraising and missionary work,” she said. “I’ve done missions in the Amazon.”

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