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Chow

There’s yet another sign that Westwood Village is coming back: Mr. Chow is coming to town.

Michael Chow, who owns Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills, plans to open a new restaurant this fall in the Westwood Dome building. Dubbed Euro Chow, the new eatery will offer Asian-Italian food, with prices lower than those at Mr. Chow.

But the attraction may not be the food as much as Chow’s reputation. With high-priced Chinese restaurants in London, Beverly Hills and New York, Chow himself is a fixture wherever artists and celebrities gather, and he boasts an enormous collection of portraits of himself by some of the country’s leading artists, including David Hockney and Andy Warhol.

For more than two decades, his Beverly Hills restaurant Mr. Chow has attracted Hollywood’s biggest names, from Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant to Elizabeth Taylor and Tom Cruise.

The 1998 Zagat Los Angeles Restaurant Guide describes Mr. Chow as “so celebrity-filled, we suspect civilians don’t go there at all.”

But how much pull will Chow’s lesser-known establishment in Westwood have?

“A great deal,” said Jay Weston, who publishes a newsletter for the restaurant industry. “(Chow) is a very canny showman and restaurateur, and Michael wouldn’t be going in there if he didn’t intend it to be enormously successful.”

Chow is banking on that. He has signed a 10-year lease for the space and is spending more than $3 million on renovations and interior design.

In recent years, Westwood Village’s pedestrian street life all but disappeared as places like Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade and Pasadena’s Old Town came to prominence. But with a new crop of real estate developers buying up commercial buildings in Westwood for new retail and entertainment projects, Chow and others believe the Village will come alive again.

“Westwood will come back. The demographics are incredible. It has theaters and all these wealthy people around it,” said Chow, who has spent a lot of his time in Europe. “Westwood is very European, it’s a village, and L.A. is sort of flat.”

He describes his planned restaurant, slated to open in the fall, as “visually luxurious and haute couture down to the ashtrays.”

Jeff Knight, principal owner of Maui Beach Cafe, which opened late last year on Westwood Boulevard, welcomes his new competitor. “Mr. Chow has one of those impeccable reputations. I’m thrilled that they’re coming in,” he said.

Chow calls himself “a little fish in the pond” in comparison to real estate developers like Larry Taylor, who along with other partners, has grabbed more than $35 million worth of Westwood property.

Still, people in the industry say an eatery like Euro Chow could help propel Westwood’s lagging renaissance. “As soon as (Euro Chow) opens, the statement will be undeniable it’s very positive,” said Knight.

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