I’ve been doing breakfasts, lunches and business meetings at WeHo’s Le Pain Quotidien (8607 Melrose) for 15 years. I worship the place — fine coffees and breads, healthy dishes, plain-wood interiors, soothing vibes, front porch. Two days ago my heart nearly stopped when I noticed a “for lease” sign. Le Pain Quotidien, the nearby Urth Caffe and another little restaurant across from the Blue Whale are the only people-friendly businesses left in the local area– all the others sell over-priced clothing, furniture, rugs and home furnishings. My Melrose-strip neighborhood (west of La Cienega, east of San Vicente) has become more and more corporate-vibey over the last five to seven years, and less and less human.
Le Pain Quotidien, 8607 Melrose, West Hollywood, CA 90069.
I naturally assumed that with all the new businesses and high-end construction that the local landlord is squeezing Le Pain Quotidien for more rent, and that the Belgian-based owners are saying “fuck that.” My assumption was correct. The details are on the website of Jay Luchs, an exec vp with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, the worldwide real-estate empire, but to be sure I called his office. I was told that Luchs has increased the monthly rent to $34K. (The per-square-foot charge is $16.50 per month.) The Melrose shop had a 15-year lease beginning in ’02. That lease has expired. The restaurant is now paying on a month-to-month basis.
The local Quotidien is a very popular place, but what kind of income do you need to be profitable when you’re shelling out $34K in rent alone? The monthly rent of an apartment dweller should ideally be somewhere between 25% and 30% of their total income, right? So by that standard La Pain Quotidien’s Melrose branch would have to take in just over $100K per month or $3,300 per day, and better yet $135K per month and $4.5K per day. I’ve no idea how much they bring in, but without a dinner trade to speak of and no alcohol sales it seems like a $2K or $2.5K per day business, if that. Maybe it takes in more — I don’t have the figures.
The local Le Pain Quotidien is, of course, not some ma-and-pa operation. It’s one of a chain of 220 restaurants worldwide (17 countries). Founder Alain Coumont opened the first Le Pain Quotidien on 10.26.90 in Brussels.