Ack! I can't take this! Another one of my beloved restaurants is leaving. Pepy's Galley at the Mar Vista Bowling Alley will be closing on June 30th.
We have breakfast here at least once a month with my Mom. She just love's Pepy's chili omelette! The other night, Larry and I decided to go to Pepy's for dinner. It wasn't packed, but most of the seats were filled on a holiday Sunday evening. The food was fresh and delicious. I ordered the Country Cobb Salad and Larry had Cameron al Mojo de Ajo (shrimp in garlic, butter sauce).
After dinner we spent some time walking around the building and photographing a few of the architecturally significant details.
There is a Facebook page to Save Pepy's at the Mar Vista Bowling Alley. The group is also looking to save Phil Yoakam's Bowling Pro Shop, inside the building. After reading a bit of the owner's letter to this group, it appears that this will not happen. Here's the letter from Tom Shannon, the CEO of Bowlmor AMF, Inc.:
To the Mar Vista Community and Loyal Patrons of AMF Mar Vista Lanes:
We are sensitive to the feedback, both positive and negative, that we have received from the community surrounding the renovation of AMF Mar Vista Lanes, which will include the closing of Pepy’s Galley. While many have expressed excitement at the introduction of a significantly upgraded family-friendly bowling center, we have seen some misinformation and confusion in the press and social media about the new facility and below is a letter to help spell out the facts.
AMF Mar Vista Lanes opened in 1960 and has not had a major upgrading since that time. The entire infrastructure is old, dated, unreliable and uneconomic. I can think of no other business that has operated with success after 54 years of basic neglect. The facility does not earn enough to pay a market rent.
The community of Mar Vista and greater Los Angeles deserves a far better experience and that is why in late June, the property will be closing to begin renovations that will upgrade and modernize the building. The new facility will remain a family-friendly bowling alley and entertainment center that will cater to guests of all ages as well as serve a wide range or food and beverage offerings. I anticipate somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 – 30 new jobs will be added and many of these will pay quite well.
There will not be an outside dining component as currently exists. Rather, the food service will be brought in house and will exist to serve patrons of the bowling center. It is impossible to economically maintain the current arrangement with Pepy’s Galley as his rent is a small fraction of market rent and the restaurant space would need close to $1 million in upgrades to bring it to current code.
When we bought AMF on July 1 of last year, it was just exiting bankruptcy for the2nd time in a decade. Had we not bought it and committed to invest in the company, 7,500 people would have lost their jobs and bowling would have become largely non-existent in major parts of the country, particularly in West LA as the AMF facilities here would have been shut down and converted to other uses.
In recent memory, a large number of bowling centers in greater LA have closed including: Reseda Bowl, Granada Bowl, Victory Lanes, Encino Bowl, Valley Center/West Valley Bowl, Northridge Lanes, Rocky Mountain/Belair, Mar Lindo, Verdugo Hills Bowl, Grand Center Lanes, Sherman Squire Lanes, Burbank Bowl, Van Nuys Bowl, Bowlerland, Sunland Bowl, Panorama Bowl and AMF Midtown Lanes. Several others in the greater LA area will soon be closing.
We have been approached by developers who would like to buy the Mar Vista property and convert it to upscale condos. Candidly, it would be the right economic decision for us to do that but we have chosen to maintain our commitment to bowling and to the community of Mar Vista and to invest a significant amount of money to ensure the viability of bowling in that market.
As noted above, there are all sorts of inflammatory and inaccurate statements about what our intentions are and how we have acted being floated on social media. I will respond to two of them. First, we are not converting the property to a nightclub type of bowling alley. It will remain a somewhat traditional, although very nice, family friendly bowling center.
Secondly, we had the right to terminate Pepy’s month to month lease with 30 days notice and could have done so upon acquiring the property in July 1, 2013. Instead, we let him stay in place, at a small fraction of market rent and at significant cost to us, but can no longer do so as we prepare to renovate the entire facility.
It has been suggested that Pepy’s could easily be relocated to another site in the market. Several suitable restaurant vacancies have been mentioned on the Facebook site. It would seem that given the level of customer support in the market, Pepy would be as successful moving down the street as he is in the current location. It is of course entirely his decision.
Again, we are sensitive to the feedback that we have received from the community and hope that this letter has helped clarify the facts behind the renovation of AMF Mar Vista Lanes.
Bowlmor AMF, Inc.
Bowlmor AMF, Inc.
We questioned the staff at Pepy's on Sunday, but none of them had any word on whether or not Pepy would re-locate in the same area. We're waiting to hear. Pepy's Galley is closing on June 30, 2014. Get over there for a delicious meal while you have the chance.