The Encounter Restaurant at the top of the landmark Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has reopened for business while renovations and repairs continue on the space-age building’s arches.
The restaurant officially reopened Monday, November 12th, more than eight months after it was closed by airport officials after a half-ton piece of stucco broke off an upper arch and fell onto the platform near the roof of the restaurant. No one was injured in the incident.
After engineers and inspectors determined that there was a possibility for other stucco pieces to fall, airport officials began a renovation project for the building’s upper and lower arches. Protective scaffolding remains around the Theme Building arches as construction continues, but Encounter Restaurant management decided it was time to reopen, following various upgrades.
“We’re very excited to have the restaurant open again,” said Connie Bass, restaurant marketing director, who added that staff members are “grateful” that no one was injured when the stucco piece fell earlier this year.
The Encounter Restaurant, which offers 360-degree views of the airport, originally opened in 1997.
Prior to the reopening November 12th, the restaurant underwent various improvements, including new chairs and lava lamps.
While the interior design remains the same, the carpet was replaced and walls were painted at the Encounter, Bass said. Restaurant managers say that while scaffolding may be within view, they don’t expect it to deter customers from coming to the Encounter.
“We’re challenged because the scaffolding is up, but we’re hoping that the interior upgrades will make the guests feel a lot more comfortable,” Bass said. “People will still come — they love the building and they like our food.”
Managers have decided to “ease” back into the schedule by opening for a few hours each day until business can rebuild, Bass noted. The Encounter is currently open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays only, from 4 to 9:30 p.m.
Airport spokesman Marshall Lowe said the renovation project for the Theme Building arches is on schedule. The construction is expected to be completed next fall.
The Theme Building is widely considered one of the most recognizable structures in Los Angeles, with its space-age design and 135-foot-high arches. The building, which was completed in 1961 at a cost of $2.2 million, was designated a cultural and historical monument by the Los Angeles City Council in 1992.