Topiary. Let’s talk about it.
You know, green stuff (i.e. plants). Maybe some Kenilworth ivy or lovely creeping fig wrapped around wire frames twisted into the shapes of beloved animals (dinosaurs anyone?) or specific objects (like a throne)?
If you were asked where to get one, maybe two, right here in WeHo, would you snap your fingers with a knowing smile or draw a complete blank?
“We are the only ones,” Saeed Babaeean, 55, proprietor of The Empty Vase on Santa Monica Boulevard at Willey Lane and Nambo Street says, “as far as I know…for sure…in the city…that does topiaries.”
“Probably in the country there are only a handful,” Babaeean said. “When we have these big elephants, big giraffes or dinosaurs, or whatever, it’s a point of attraction.”
You agree with that? Despite The Empty Vase’s smack…
“It’s a little tricky in the beard,” aesthetician Tony Silla, 51, tells me. I’m lying on his treatment table in a dimly lit room at the Face Place, the WeHo salon he owns with his husband of 30 years, Paul Rogers.
Did I mention my legs rest upon a raised, queer-shaped cushion? It encourages blood flow to the head.
Why so tricky? Well, I’m having my face…vacuumed.
“I’m gonna use a little suction on your skin while I clean it,” Silla says. “And it’s gonna feel like this.”
Whir! Buzz! Thwiiiirrrpp! It’s sort of like being at the dentist – only it’s your face.
The wand Silla calls his “little vacuum” resembles a miniature Hoover. I imagine Barbie putting her little plastic palms around it to suck schmutz from the rugs in her Dream Home.
“Sometimes,” Silla says, “your skin gets a…
When you meet Gina Amir, 34, owner of the jewelry studio in her own name near the corner of Robertson Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, the first two physical traits you notice are her long midnight-black hair and her large eyes. Enhanced by eyeliner and makeup, it’s the irises themselves that, well, sparkle, like gemstones she might use in her work.
“I opened my first store in Cologne, Germany,” Amir said, after studying gemology near Frankfurt. “Eleven years ago I decided to expand the business and move to the States.” She opened up about why jewelry is her passion, entrepreneurial joys and challenges – as well as about her naughty kitty cat and why she chose to continue her business in WeHo.
WEHOville: How do you describe what you do?
Gina Amir: What I do is the world of design. Customers can have one-on-one sessions….
Doherty and his brother used their credit cards to finance the purchase of the restaurant more than 20 years ago.
“’I was born in a pharmacy,’ I like to say,” the pharmacist Raja Sannidhi, 39, the newish owner of Capitol Drugs, tells me with a slight smile.
Hold on. You weren’t aware that the local drug store had even changed hands in November 2015? “A lot of times patients are like, ‘We didn’t know there was a change of ownership,’” Sannidhi said. “That’s our point.”
Originally from India, Sannidhi grew up in New Jersey after his father, now 65, also a pharmacist and still working, moved the family to the States in 1982. Sannidhi’s generic American accent doesn’t hint at his being born seven hours outside Hyderabad, a city of nearly seven million. This guy is calm, friendly, and very earnest about his chosen profession – and why he does it.
The family has three additional pharmacies in New Jersey, Brooklyn…
Hill is the president and CEO of Vroman’s and of Book Soup, WeHo’s legendary book store on Sunset Boulevard.
Andrew Modlin wants to revolutionize how we think about, shop for and consume pot.
A middle-aged female mail carrier wearing U.S. Postal Service-sanctioned blue shorts and top enters the store while Cynthia Daté, 48, and I conduct this interview. We’re chatting about the retail boutique she owns and operates with her sister Christine, 46, who wasn’t there that day, preferring to let Cynthia do the talking.
“It’s hot out there, huh?” Daté (pronounced “dah-tay”) asks the postwoman. “Sorry for another box,” she says, handing a package over.
It was, like, so Main Street. I believe Daté even knew the postal worker’s first name. Is this the L.A. you know?
Clearly, there were never such devoted sisters.
Yes, the owners of Optique by Cynthia & Christine, the beloved local optical house (with 25 five-star reviews on Yelp), remind me of the lyrics in Irving Berlin’s female-siblings-in-arms…
If you arrive at Anawalt Lumber early on a Friday morning, you are likely to see general manager Basil Alexander, 50, making sure his customers enjoy free donuts and coffee. If they’ve run out, he will tell you: “Well, don’t get here after ten.” (Note: Anawalt opens at 6:30 a.m.)
Alexander has been with Anawalt for 10 years and in the lumber/hardware business since he was a wee tyke of 22. “Went by fast, man,” Alexander said to me as we stand in the middle of the nursery section. “It’s like Noah’s Ark. We got two of everything,” he said, referring to the plants around us. Woe to the customer who needs more. “This guy said he needs nine. I’m, like, I gotta order those for you.”
And before you think your commute is tough, Alexander travels every day from Placentia, a suburban city in north Orange County…
Any thoughts on what a fair rent increase might be for a retail space in WeHo these days? Would you say 4%? Maybe 7%?
Try ten times that amount, and you will learn what true South African grit, honest-to-goodness real entrepreneurial spirit, looks like.
“Our landlord raised the rent, our rent, 70%,” said Jeffrey Apter, co-owner of Hedley’s Restaurant, which is on the eastern side of Robertson Boulevard, between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, told me recently.
“Seven-zero?” I ask.
“Seven. Zero,” Apter replied. “Yes.”
Apter, 55, is from Johannesburg, and every time he says the word “yes,” which is quite often, usually to emphasize a point, it has a unique, cozy Down Under ring to it: “Yiss” – soft “i” with a slight hiss at the end.