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Sam Nazarian, Dreamer: SBE's Plans for LA Domination

On the day of another hot SBE debut (Katsuya Hollywood), we thought it would be fun to look back and see what Sam Nazarian once had planned for his LA domination. We dug up a post from our LA.com days, circa 2005, just chock-full of information:

We know Shelter has an identity crisis every few months, but we just read that its owners are changing it completely into a restaurant called Slab, designed by Philipe Starck...From the Feb. 28 issue of Nation's Restaurant News:

The establishment will be a three story, casual fine dining venue on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood with rooftop seating and a 700-square-foot dance floor. Sam Nazarian, chief executive and founder of SBE Entertainment Group, said he is hoping to recruit a nationally recognized chef-resturateur, like Todd English, Jean Vongerichten or Ming Tsai, to develop the menu. To us, Slab sounds a little too, um, LA for those James Beard award-winning East Coast chefs.

God, we sounded so young, so naive. Let's go back a bit. Shelter became Privelege in 2006, and Privilege just quietly closed at the end of September to make way for a new Starck/SBE supperclub. Hopefully with a name other than Slab. And while the idea that celebrity chefs like Vongerichten, English or Tsai coming to LA seemed completely ridiculous to us in 2005, Batali, Colicchio, Tourondel and even English have proved us wrong.

Nazarian's plans went far beyond that space on the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights. He had ideas for restaurants all over town; some came to fruition, some didn't:

The article goes on about others ways SBE wants to "spice up LA nightlife" over the next couple of years, which includes turning the former Beverly Hills barbecue joint RJs into a high-end Persian restaurant, Bakarat, to "tap into the Iranian-American population"; open a second oupost of Yu Restaurant and Lounge somewhere in LA, to be called YU2; turning Brentwood's El Dorado into Katsu with chef Katsu-Ya Uechi, who owns two Katsu-Ya restaurants in the Valley; and opening a members-only restaruant/club Chrome next to Slab. Prey, their other super-trendy hot spot often written up in weekly tabloids, will become a 330-seat contemporary supper club, Megu, a Japanese import that's made waves in Tribeca.
Most of this didn't and won't be happening. Last we heard, the California Pizza Kitchen guys plant to put LA Food Show in the RJs space. Yu Restaurant became the more successful Montana Lounge, which is now becoming a non-SBE restaurant, Cafe R&D, so we can't see them duplicating the Yu concept. Prey is now Area, home of The Hills stars and the stalkarazzi that stalks them, so no Megu for that spot. The only thing that saw the light of day was Katsuya, a hit in Brentwood, and here we are full circle to today, when the second outpost opens in Hollywood, and a third on its way to Glendale in 2008. So what if Nazarian's one for five. SBE is still a force to be reckoned with: Lobby will become something new in early 2008, the Le Meridien hotel will become SBE-owned SLS in mid-2008, and there's an entire Vegas resort in the works. Where would we be without the dreamers?
· Preying for More [LA.comfidential]
· Chairgate Continues: Katsuya Hollywood [~ELA~]

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