Topic of the Week: The Proud Bird

LAX - Los Angeles

In just over a month, on November 21, one of the best eating/spotting locations in the world will close. The Proud Bird at LAX shuts its doors that day. It sits on airport property and the airport decided to raise rent by more than 130 percent over what it pays today. They say that’s market rent, but with the restaurant closing, I can’t imagine they’ll have a new tenant anytime in the remotely near future.

I grew up going to The Proud Bird and we have our annual Cranky Concierge dinners there now. If you’ve been, share your memories here. If you haven’t, see if you can sneak in before the closing date.

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23 comments on “Topic of the Week: The Proud Bird

  1. As an East Coaster, I’ve never been. However next weekend I’ll be making my first trip to LA in many years and will be going for sure.

  2. Great location, good service, good food. I’m with you Cranky, who’s going in there with the rent so high-I would think better to have a stable tenent with a stable source of income. Next question-what happens to the airplanes?-Maybe Planes of Fame will take them?

  3. Well – I’m flying through LAX the second weekend in November, and coincidentally, our flight lands right at lunchtime. Methinks a lunch stop is in order.

  4. It will be a sad day in November when The Proud Bird closes. I especially enjoyed the view and listening to ATC. The food is pretty good, too. If LAX can keep the original terminal functional, why not cut a deal with TPB.

  5. A few of us went to the Proud Bird for brunch the day after the Pan Am 747 event last month. It was an great morning of plane spotting and reminiscing, and an excellent cap to a fantastic Cranky weekend.

  6. What a shame! The whole 20+ years I was in the airline biz at LAX The Proud Bird was a fixture there. I once took the owner of the airline I worked for, his co-pilot and the company attorney there for dinner. The LOVED the place and were in heaven with all the photos all over the place. The sad end to another era.

  7. It is a sad day when ill advised decisions force another “shutdown” of a good thing. Where do they get these idiots who decide on such matters? Who are they?? Now, instead of generating jobs and revenue LAX will have a negative cash flow for the property for what will probably be a VERY long period of time.

    ONT has the right videa in distancing themselves from the politics and dumbing down of LAX. This event is more proof that LAX administration and planning is broken.

    My pet peeve with LAX/City of LA planning and administration is why don’t they have direct METRO service to LAX and BUR to relieve FWY traffic, ensure that passengers can take the METRO to make flights on time by avoiding heavy traffic delays, decrease parking needs, save on gasoline, utilize the METRO system to fullest potential, etc.

    Who are these people that do more harm than good to LAX?? It’s time for change – IMMEDIATELY!

    1. I would be interested in seeing how LAWA determined the market rate. Even if LAWA wants the restaurant to stay open, they cannot charge below market rents for non-aeronautical. When an airport takes grants from the FAA to build infrastructure, they have to sign their life away to grant assurances.

      The restaurant might have a aviation theme, however, it is not an aeronautical user. The airport can not charge below fair market value. If they did, the airport risks paying back their grants to the FAA and all future grants for expansion.

      It is sad to see them go, but I wonder how much of this is largely outside the abilities of LAWA to negotiate.

    2. Metro service to LAX is on the drawing board. Brian Sumers had an article about one option a couple of days ago:

      This would put a metro/bus station about a mile from the terminal complex, which would provide baggage check facilities and an automated people mover to take passengers to the terminals. This would put LAX on par with what Phoenix Sky Harbor offers.

  8. Thanks for the link to my story, Brett.

    You are right about the question of what market rent is. Airport officials say they have to charge “market rent” similar to what would be charged for “aeronautical property.” Of course, there’s no indication that the space will be rented at any time in the future for aviation purposes because of where it is. It’s likely to be empty.

    There is some question also about the financial health of the restaurant even under the current rent. Some have suggested the Proud Bird wasn’t making money even under the current arrangement.

    I don’t get the feeling that there is any legitimate way to save the Proud Bird, but I could be wrong.

    1. According to your article, the owner indicates that the lack of facility improvements and long tem agreement is impacting their bottom line. Without cooperation from the City of LA/LAX there is no future for the Proud Bird.

      1. Which pretty much pulls everything together. The facility needs renovation, but can’t invest in renovations while on a month-to-month lease. LAWA can’t sign a new long term lease at the restaurant’s current rent; it has to charge “market rent”. Which Proud Bird can’t afford.

  9. Maybe the Proud Bird could relocate to one of the smaller area airports. They might have a bigger presence there than at LAX.

    “Proud Bird” also reminds me of Continental’s slogan: “The Proud Bird with the Golden Tail.”

  10. Well this is just a though, but perhaps if maybe the proud bird could move to Las Vegas McCarran International and I could have a nicer Vegas touch perhaps. :-)

  11. In the thirty years I’ve lived in the LA area, and all the times I’ve flow in in/out of LAX, I’ve never been inside The Proud Bird. I’ll have to make a trip soon!

    This must be the week for landmark restaurant closures. I just found out that The Hilltop Steakhouse in Saugus, MA (just north of Boston’s Logan airport) is closing soon.

  12. I took my wife there on our first dinner together. That was 43 years ago. I was a Capt. for Western Airlines. She became a flight attendant for Western. I had to retire at age 60 but she is still flying and we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary. We might fly over to L.A. for one last dinner at the Proud Bird.

  13. I have family in LA and always enjoyed eating at The Proud Bird with my dad and cousin when in Los Angeles. We are all aviation fans and my cousin, an LA native, often took clients there when he lived in Los Angeles back in the 1970s. Seeing planes from all over the world land right outside the window is just so cool!

    My memories of it are especially vivid from the early 2000s. We went to The Proud Bird often because we were in Los Angeles quite a lot visiting my aunt, who was then battling cancer. To my dad, my cousin, and I, it was an important place to relax and regroup after visits with her–to eat good food, watch airplanes, and have a beer or two.

    Sadly, my aunt passed away in early September 2001. Her memorial service was set for the following week. I arrived in Los Angeles on a very late America West flight early on the morning of the 11th (4 AM, if my memory serves) and awoke at the Sheraton Four Points near LAX to the news about the attacks in New York and Washington.

    Despite the sad news of that day for aviation and the world–and after much deliberation by her family about what would be appropriate–her memorial service proceeded as planned on September 11, 2001.

    Like much the rest of the family, following her service I became unable to return home from Los Angeles since flights were grounded for the next few days thanks to the attacks. The three of us were essentially marooned at the Four Points LAX, so we went to The Proud Bird often. There wasn’t much else to do.

    It was strange to see LAX so quiet and still during those visits on the 12th, 13th, and 14th, but going to The Proud Bird and being surrounded by the trappings of aviation history was a wonderful tonic. Despite all of the sadness, deep down we knew that we and aviation would figure out how to go on somehow.

    I’ve been back to The Proud Bird many times since 2001–all on much happier occasions and happier visits, of course! Still, when I think just how special this place is–and that it is closing–I can’t help but feel very sad.

    I’ll forever associate The Proud Bird with a lot of different emotions, but especially a lot of joy. Farewell and hail to The Proud Bird!


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