At Beach Nation, Thomas Schoos Turns a Parking Lot into Paradise

Beach Nation (Photo by Jon Viscott)
Beach Nation (Photo by Jon Viscott)

While developers may have taken paradise (Alla Nazimov’s Garden of Allah at 8152 Sunset Blvd.) and turned it into a parking lot, Thomas Schoos has done pretty much the opposite on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue.

Schoos’ Beach Nation, with a “soft opening” scheduled for today and a regular opening next Wednesday, is fronted by a yard of white paving and white sand with seating shaded by orange canopies.

It will be serving coffee and juices (and wine and beer when it acquires the necessary permits) along with sandwiches and salads. It sits only a few hundred feet west of Schoos Design Studios at 8271 Santa Monica Blvd. and the now shuttered Don’t Tell Mama restaurant and lounge, which once housed Schoos’ O Bar. Patrons who close their eyes and imbibe enough beer or wine might be able to imagine they’re on the beach instead of Santa Monica Boulevard (those roaring engines do sound somewhat like waves.) At least until a fire engine screams by.

Photographer Jon Viscott took a look at Beach Nation and share the photos that follow:

  1. Just an ill-conceived idea. I guarantee you no one is going to just “hang out” here. If we wanted the sand and beach we’d go to Malibu or Venice. Fine..if they want to put a placeholder here…go ahead. But I’d rather have another 3-4 story parking garage designed to look like a building and put IRV’s burgers in retail space on the ground level. And please…get rid of that horrible billboard and all the metal holding it up. It just looks awful.

  2. With the tiny clothing store down the street perhaps we will be seeing young guys who will do anything for a laugh lounging at BEACH NATION in skimpy swim suits just purchased.

  3. p.s. Irv’s Burgers now on S.M. Blvd at Laurel Ave. is doing more business than ever….the food is better, probably due to better kitchen equipment…….and of course the Hongs are as joyous as ever…….and the prices are ridiculously low….and a very good looking crowd…

  4. With the heat wave we had last week, I noted the skimpiness of the awnings too. I don’t think they will suffice, especially since the restaurant faces south and will get the sun all day long. The space looks sharp, but it will indeed place its customers on display–they may have to plant a hedge at the sidewalk to allow for some privacy. It sure beats the old corner though.

  5. Just a guess, but I think (like Todd) that this is a place holder until they get beer/wine. They needed a concept to get the license and while it looks pleasant enough, I don’t think they really spent a ton. Once they secure the license, get ready to see some real plans submitted for a more permanent project.

    If true, this is a good strategy that puts to use that previously awful corner.

    Nice job.

  6. It reminds me of a “quirky” set for a reality show (like PUMP) rather than a place I’d want to eat. Sand and food don’t usually mix well and while the triangular sail shades look cool in photos, they don’t generally provide the kind of shade you’d get from a standard patio table umbrella or a well-screened patio. I think I’d gone for more of the nice decking rather than sand.

    This corner has begged for redevelopment for a long time. This looks like a nice placeholder. How long it lasts is a big question, but I wish them luck. As we know, parking in this area is particularly difficult. The Kings Road lot is usually at capacity and the ill-conceived and pricey City Hall robogarage is several months away from completion.

    It does look like they are rehabbing Irv’s old space, which I’m thankful for. Much of the success of this location may depend on that little corner and what business goes into this space.

  7. for 20 years have seen them come and go and this just might be the fastest one to go. there is so much wrong with this scene. just to name a few: people will be tripping and falling in the sand, if you allow dogs on property there will be a flea problem in the sand, there just isn’t enough protection from the sun, the chairs look terribly uncomfortable and hot, when the traffic stops at the red light all the customers will be on display like at a zoo……….oh my goodness….so much wrong here………with the climate change and summers getting hotter most people want out of the sun and heat, they don’t want to have to wear sunblock while having a cup of coffee….build a coffee shop that feels like you’re outdoors like with an atrium or lots of windows but please use the air conditioning……he could have just as easily built a glass atrium all the way around it and cranked up the air conditioning. On hot days people are not looking for someone where to get hot, they are looking for somewhere to get cool. If they want the beach they can jump on the bus and be there in 20 minutes, get in a skimpy bathing suit and not have to spend $5 for a cup of coffee to hear busses, cars and firetrucks screaming by.

  8. Hope it works out but as I looked in there either today or yesterday it looked a bit crowded with all the furnisher.

  9. This is a refreshing concept and very cool & inviting. Keep the good thoughts coming and ignore the “Negative Nancy’s” like Alison. Some people will always find something to complain about. The only suggestion I would make is that instead of a large planter in the middle a fire pit would be awesome. Either way, congratulations on this new wonderful place in WeHo!!!

  10. It’s unique, gorgeous, clever, quirky and perhaps a bit brilliant. How wonderful to have this oasis in place of that desolate lot and abandoned garage. Clearly, the Irv’s Burger stand is being restored to retain it’s original 1956 character and slated to reopen and I think the Beach Nation folks deserve our gratitude for investing many hundreds of thousands of dollars in our community. So I say welcome, best of luck, salut, mazel tov and thanks for creating jobs and opening these venues in Weho’s mid-city neighborhood.

    And Just for the record, here’s the history of the burger stand:
    The Hongs, who live in Northridge, purchased the business in 2000 from Irv Gendis, who renamed it after himself when he acquired it in 1970. Before that, the stand had been known as Queenies’ Burgers and Joe’s Burgers.

  11. Paradise? I think not. Just another theme restaurant, a gimmicky one at that.

    And please, get over the Garden of Allah already. It has been gone for ages. It is history. Leave it there.

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