The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2013

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Page 48 of 148

WHAT���S NEW An Oasis amid the Chaos SUSAN DISNEY LORD REVAMPS A LOS ANGELES WESTSIDE FAVORITE by Meridith May / photo by Randall Michelson L Bel Air Bar + Grill owner/operator Susan Disney Lord and her son, the restaurant���s Assistant Manager, Max Loughman. 44 / the tasting panel / march 2013 os Angelenos are well aware to expect the unexpected as they schedule their drive between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside via the 405 Freeway. With this busy trafic artery in a constant state of upgrades, including bridge building, off-ramp revamping and lane augmentation, on some days commutes that should take 15 minutes can result in a frustrating, hour-long bumper-to-bumper endurance challenge. Perfectly situated in the middle of this web of detours and ditches (and just a Van Gogh���s toss from the nearby Getty Center) is the oasis called the Bel Air Bar + Grill. While the restaurant originally opened in 1997, it was acquired in 2007 by Susan Disney Lord. The neighborhood institution had an unarguably old-school atmosphere, in need of a remake, but it was such a local favorite that it took ive years for the new proprietress to dare upgrade its look. ���Between the unbeatable location and the potential to remodel and expand, I knew I wanted to take it to the next level,��� Disney Lord tells THE TASTING PANEL. Having shed its tired, used-up interior, the Bel Air Bar + Grill now its its Westside billing as a main (thoroughfare) attraction. And during afternoon rush hour, it���s just the place to take cover, with an appropriately-themed 405 Happy Hour���at 4:05 p.m., with $4.05 cocktails. Design group Ralph Gentile Architects came in to texture walls; fabric-covered chairs and booths are now warm and comfortable. Previously troubling acoustics have been worked out, and an upstairs dining room appears streamlined and intimate. But the focal point is a collection of student artwork from CalArts (California Institute of Arts, located in the Los Angeles exurb of Valencia). The school was founded by Disney Lord���s grandfather, Roy O. Disney, and irst envisioned by her great uncle, Walt Disney. She is proud to continue the legacy and serves as president of the board of trustees of the Roy Disney Family Foundation. A mother of ive (including two sets of twins), Disney Lord had not ventured into the business world before acquiring the Bel Air Bar + Grill. ���I���m a college grad but a jack-of-all-trades, thanks to motherhood,��� she laughs. ���I did this so my twin 19-year-old daughters would witness their mom going out into the world and making something of herself.���

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