Life is busy, especially for entrepreneur Sam Nazarian.

In fact, Nazarian is so busy running SBE, his L.A. entertainment and hospitality company, that he resigned in August from the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners.

Nazarian, 35, has been traveling to New York to negotiate deals for hotel properties there, and he’s been making trips to Miami to oversee construction that recently began on the Ritz Plaza Hotel, which is set to open as an SLS hotel next year.

“Right now, LAX is going through a major modernization and huge expansion of its international terminal,” Nazarian said last week before he jetted off to Miami and Las Vegas for 11 days. “And it’s a full-time job (to be an airport commissioner). Unfortunately, or fortunately because of the growth in my business, I wasn’t doing it full justice.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Nazarian to the commission in July 2009.

Even during his tenure on the commission, Nazarian was busy: He opened a second outpost of celebrity hotspot Hyde Lounge in the Staples Center; a fourth outpost of sushi restaurant Katsuya at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles; and a new Hollywood nightclub, Colony. SBE also began managing former Mayor Richard Riordan’s famed Gladstone’s restaurant and the company took over the new Hollywood boutique hotel Redbury.

While Nazarian’s focused on SBE for the moment, he isn’t ruling out public service in the future.

“It’s a pleasure to give back,” he said, “if I can be effective.”

Wheeler Dealers

Usually, professional associations stage events so their members can network.

But the Los Angeles Venture Association, which groups venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, bankers and attorneys, hadn’t held a members-only event in as long as most members could remember.

So two weeks ago, the organization treated its members to samplings of fine spirits and cigars at an event staged at the West L.A. Tesla dealership.

Leonard Lanzi, executive director of the association, said the get-together generated so much buzz that some local business people became members of the organization just so they could attend.

“It was fun and relaxing,” Lanzi said. “We didn’t have a program, so people were able to spend a couple of hours together.”

But it was more than the Scotch tasting that made the evening exciting for the 120 or so who attended: Tesla employees drove attendees around the block in a company Roadster.

Unfortunately, Lanzi missed out on his chance to experience the Roadster’s ability to launch itself from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 3.7 seconds.

“They ran out of time,” he said. “But I’m going back to do it on my own.”

So, any chance he’ll pick up a Radiant Red Roaster when he returns?

“I’m not a big roadster, sports car guy,” he said. “I drive a Volkswagen.”

Staff reporter Alexa Hyland contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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