The Proud Bird restaurant, a cultural staple of Westchester for nearly 50 years, quite literally has a new lease on life.
Once expected to shutter over a rent dispute, the LAX-adjacent aviation-themed restaurant reached a deal for a 20-year lease extension earlier this year.
On Saturday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — instrumental in brokering an agreement between the restaurant and Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that oversees LAX — stopped by The Proud Bird for a special lease-signing celebration.
Garcetti said a large number of Westsiders, particularly Westchester residents, rallied to save The Proud Bird.
“That’s what civic engagement is all about,” Garcetti said. “We heard you. We acted. The Proud Bird has landed, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate the saving of this iconic restaurant that honors L.A’s aviation leadership and our heroic Tuskegee Airmen.”
John Tallichet, whose family owns The Proud Bird, recalled his anxieties that it would close.
“We were never quite sure that we would get to the point of getting another extension. It’s been a very emotional time for our family,” Tallichet said. “There are so many different groups that benefit from The Proud Bird being there, and one of them is our employees. Some have been with us for over 20 years and they’re like family to us.”
The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved the lease to The Proud Bird parent company Runway Two-Five Corp. on Jan. 15. The lease covers a total of 6.44 acres: 4.47 acres of off-airport land with 52,072 square feet of buildings and 1.97 acres of unpaved adjacent land for historical aircraft displays, according to Los Angeles World Airports.
Tallichet said the restaurant’s leasing fees will readjust according to market rates in three years and be reassessed every five years for the duration of the 20-year extension.
“I cannot imagine LAX without The Proud Bird,” Garcetti said. “And keeping The Proud Bird open is part of what makes this airport a significant economic engine and employer for our community.