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City of Beverly Hills Responds to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Business Allegations

The famed chef claims the city made business there unworkable

Bouchon, Beverly Hills
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Thomas Keller announced yesterday that he would be shutting down his nine-year-old restaurant Bouchon in Beverly Hills by the end of the year, but his closing statement was not without at least one or two digs against the city of Beverly Hills itself. Now, the city has responded with its own take on what transpired over the years between the two business entities, and offers a hint as to why it’s all going away.

In his note, Keller says in part:

We have not been able to find a solution to the adverse conditions impacting our success with our landlord, The City of Beverly Hills, that would provide the proper conditions for the restaurant. The circumstances no longer exist to operate a profitable restaurant.

“Adverse conditions” certainly sounds like a shot at those in power in Beverly Hills, especially considering — as Keller notes — they literally own the Bouchon building. Eater was actually able to obtain some of Bouchon’s public leasing information and Keller and his team did routinely ask for easements and rent reductions over the year to help quell the high cost of doing business, but it all seems to have been for naught.

For its part, the city of Beverly Hills has sent Eater the following statement:

We are sorry to hear about the upcoming closing of the Bouchon restaurant, café and bar. As property owners, the City has done everything it could to help these businesses become profitable, including a significant capital investment in the building, a tenant improvement allowance as well as granting rent reductions of more than 50% from the original lease. As a local government and as stewards of public assets we have a fiduciary to our tax payers and we are unable to do anymore. We wish Mr. Keller the utmost success in his other enterprises.

Based on the paperwork Eater has seen, those details — gross rent reduction, tenant improvement allowance — are indeed true, but there is also no denying that Beverly Hills in general remains one of the most expensive places to do any kind of business in greater Los Angeles. Add in tight restaurant margins, constant competition, and flagging sales, and it’s no wonder the two could not come to a workable agreement to remain open. Bouchon’s last days will come this December.