WeHo’s Bottega Louie Again Postpones Its Opening, Laying Off All Employees

Illustration of the front facade of Bottega Louie, 8936 Santa Monica Blvd. (Architect Bulli Architecture)

The long-delayed opening of West Hollywood’s Bottega Louie, which had been scheduled for Dec. 19, now has been pushed until March of next year. The restaurant’s employees, who have been training for weeks, got calls on Tuesday telling them that they have been laid off.

The restaurant has been under construction since 2016 at 8936 Santa Monica Blvd., once the location of Raffi’s Jewelers, Balliamos dance studio and Unicorn Alley, an “adult” store. It is an offshoot of the popular Bottega Louie restaurant in the Brockman building in downtown Los Angeles that is known for its Italian menu, gourmet market, and French patisserie.

The City of West Hollywood granted Bottega Louie the required permit in June 2016. Its owners, Chris Bollenbach and Kevin McKellar, partnered with David Cooley, owner of The Abbey, who had taken over the space to open a restaurant named Cooley’s. They planned to open Bottega Louie in 2017.  A number of issues have delayed its opening, including opposition from Richard Giesbret, president of the West Hollywood West Residents Association. While the WHWRA did not take an official position on the matter, Giesbret objected that noise from the restaurant’s rear patio, which faces West Hollywood Park, might upset homeowners in the area.

One employee of the restaurant, who asked not to be named, told WEHOville that the latest delay is because of construction problems. He said there appeared to be problems with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and that heating for the patio area wasn’t working.

“We got screwed over,” said the employee of the layoffs. He went on the payroll on Nov. 21, although he also had undergone some training in October when the restaurant was planning to open in November. “There are some employees who have no money and no other jobs,” he said. He told WEHOville that those workers whose biweekly paychecks weren’t set up for direct deposit have been told they must show up at Bottega Louie’s West Hollywood location on Friday to pick up their final checks.

The employee estimated that the West Hollywood location had nearly 250 employees. He said they were told that they could reapply for their jobs when the restaurant finally opens but were not offered a guarantee that they would be hired.

The employee praised the managers of the West Hollywood location, including general manager Nick Schultz, for their work in training them. “We were starting to become a little bit of a family,” he said.

The restaurant occupies an 8,900 square foot space and will have an estimated 200 seats and dining on the outdoor patio. Like the downtown location, it will include a patisserie, market, full bar, kitchen and dining area. The menus at Bottega Louie in West Hollywood will mirror that of the downtown location including breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch along with beer, wine, and cocktails.

WEHOville has reached out to Bottega Louie’s Chris Bollenbach for comment on the delay but, as of publication, has not received a response.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated that the West Hollywood West Residents Association had raised concerns about possible noise from Bottega Louie affecting neighbors. While Richard Giesbret, then the president of WHWRA raised that issue, the WHWRA did not take a position on it. The story has been updated to note that.


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Team Kelly
Guest

The City of WeHo, and LA in general, is terrible when it comes to new builds like this. However, they seemed past this point and there had been various issues from wiring to HVAC they had worked through. I am certain laying off the employees was a last resort move and a hard business decision. So people berating them are totally clueless individuals who have zero business sense. What are they supposed to do carry payroll and big losses for months? I love how people form rash judgements without any knowledge of the situation or challenges that they faced. I… Read more »

Jason K.
Guest
Jason K.

I agree with you with the only exception that they should have told everyone that they are welcome to come back and take the job they were hired for originally when they finally are ready to open.

David
Guest
David

Nobody good with management or building construction cred would let this building process go on for this long. Either there’s a financial issue or gross incompetence with construction management. Either one is on the owner to get right or solve in a timely manner. What really surprises me is that they already have a restaurant downtown. Did Cooley make the process more difficult? Jason K is correct in saying the least they could have done was to promise those employees that were already “hired” that they wouldn’t have to go through the entire process again. Another example of poor judgement… Read more »

David
Guest
David

Building permits are only valid for a set number of months and this project must have gone through at least two or three now. At high visibility locations like this one, doesn’t the City of West Hollywood have some legal power or rights to step in and force the owners of the property to either finish the project or sell it? This is the type of issue where public shaming could actually be useful.

learntobeajournalist
Guest
learntobeajournalist

Perhaps if there was a manager who knew how to manage construction crews, requiring that they don’t show up to work high on weed or overall lacking the energy to complete projects on a deadline, all of these employees would have a job for the holidays. Laid off even before their first day.

Why is CA so inefficient? It’s the culture now out here. SLOW, drugged, red-tape, identity politics, etc. No wonder residents are leaving CA. Get it together.

John on Hancock
Guest
John on Hancock

When I walked in the back of the building (near the dog park), I saw them serving recently. I assumed this was a trial run for backers or a private party – and now this?

Rich
Guest
Rich

I can’t say what that was you saw, but I’ve worked in the industry for years. Could have been everything from mock runs between the staff, to an industry night, or even a family and friends run. Also, perhaps refining of dish, wine/cocktail presentation and pairings. It is interesting they are running into so many (assumed large ticket construction) issues, but it can happen, if an owner(s) pushes for a super early date. They should never underestimate a time frame for these types of businesses. But giving jobs and then laying them off within 2 weeks, with other previous training… Read more »

Oscar
Guest
Oscar

Ikr. They were all hired and bam fired like animals. Can’t say I will be helping this establishment when it finally opens. Can’t see myself dining here after what they stand for. It’s ludicrous

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yeah. It was the servers training. Preparing them for real guest while at the same time the cooks practice cooking the food.

JF1
Guest
JF1

There has to be more to this story… Permits are issued and the city does inspections of each area (plumbing, HVAC, electric, etc) and if they were about to open they must have passed all those inspections (meaning things were working). This project has been delayed for so long, it could have been built twice or three times in the time it has taken. It does not take 3 months to fix a HVAC issue…and to lay off all staff after training them for weeks? There is more to this..

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yeah that’s some bull. The ventilations from the kitchen stoped working. The ventilations next to the grill station had more smoke than it could handle. At first everyone were told it would take a week and would be notified. A week later everyone gets a phone call that they found more problems after deeper inspection.

Builder
Guest
Builder

If there is this smoke issue as described, it’s related not only to the HVAC but to the hood and ansul system which ties back into the HVAC system ultimately. If it’s related to the Fire system, they’ll likely need to re-engineer it, resubmit it to the city for re-approval and possibly change out ducting or machines because it’s not passing inspection. Just because something is up to code, doesn’t mean it works. Fire Dpt doesn’t mess around and i’ve seen entire HVAC have to be re-done, ducting and all because it doesn’t pass a smoke test. I’ve seen restaurants… Read more »

Vigilant
Guest
Vigilant

“Just because something is up to code, doesn’t mean it works”. Thank you for reinforcing that basic premise. This statement applies to physical appearance relating to building codes when buildings are designed.
Hello Planning & Design Review!!!

Tangential to this is the big problem of electrical work being executed in historic buildings without proper permits and inspections.
Fire Department First and Last!

LADoug
Guest
LADoug

Thank you @Builder for the reasonable explanation. This makes sense.

Weho Truth Talk
Guest
Weho Truth Talk

Bottega Louie is a restaurant. West Hollywood has had loud bars for decades. And worried about loud noise on the patio overlooking the park? Lol cmon. There are no homes next to the park. There is the metro bus area, more bars, the Pacific Design Center and the library. There are no homes there.

I’m sad for the employees being laid off and the construction issues but the NIMBYs opposing this because of noise from a patio that isn’t even close to homes is just really crazy.

Webuiltthiscity
Guest
Webuiltthiscity

This is what happens when West Hollywood West Homeowners Association causing delays when a legitimate business is trying to establish itself in our city and now 250 people are out of work, the opening is delayed and for what? This restaurant is not within their neighborhood boundaries or even within 500 feet. It appears as though they are a bunch of bored busybodies creating nuisance disputes for sport.

AJM
Guest
AJM

Agreed. Residents who are WHWHA are the most of entitled humans. The board is a selfish group of people who think of themselves first and second and third. They think of no one else. These are the same group of people who came up with the calming circles that have caused numerous accidents because one board member thought he was a genius and could solve traffic problems with no working knowledge of city services or urban development. They should be more concerned about daily construction noises and resident parties in the residential area that effect a neighborhood more than a… Read more »

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated that the West Hollywood West Residents Association had raised concerns about possible noise from Bottega Louie affecting neighbors. While Richard Giesbret, then the president of WHWRA raised that issue, the WHWRA did not take a position on it. The story has been updated to note that.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated that the West Hollywood West Residents Association had raised concerns about possible noise from Bottega Louie affecting neighbors. While Richard Giesbret, then the president of WHWRA raised that issue, the WHWRA did not take a position on it. The story has been updated to note that.

Tia
Guest
Tia

Just to clarify, objections to noise from an open patio were expressed awhile back in 2016 and the restaurant addressed those concerns early on.

As the article says “the latest delay is because of construction problems. … there appeared to be problems with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and that heating for the patio area wasn’t working. Residents in WeHo West are not the cause of the delay on this constantly on again–off again construction project nor the cancelling of the opening.

Alan Strasburg
Guest
Alan Strasburg

As the saying goes, “something’s not right in the state of Denmark” and there’s got to be more to this story than construction delays that surfaced at what appears to be the last minute. Somewhere there’s an incompetence that led to the disruption of the livelihoods of the nearly 250 people who were hired and then summarily dismissed.