Good Change Is Coming

By Scott Wagenseller
Palisades News Owner

I am excited. As I drove into town from the west last week, I saw a bulldozer on top of broken pipes and shredded wood, working away at what used to be the Santa Monica Bank building and Carly K’s clothing store on Sunset Boulevard (now located at 1024 Swarthmore).

Bulldozers and rubble. Maybe it’s just me, but I actually feel energized to see progress on Swarthmore Avenue, a business block that had been in decline for many years before the prop- erty was acquired by developer Rick Caruso.

The Prince’s Table on the corner at Monument had been vacant for so long that the flower boxes outside were filled with weeds and litter.

The bookstore that I loved went out of business, and à la Tarte, once a popular French eatery, was abandoned.

I have fond memories of eating at Mort’s Deli and seeing the curmudgeon Mort hold- ing court at a corner table. He always re- minded me of Rodney Dangerfield. In fact, the last images I have of Rodney Dangerfield was when I saw him eating dinner at Chasen’s, another venerable eatery long gone. I will miss the apple pie at Mort’s and Bobbie’s pleasant greetings at the register.

I also have cherished memories of my dad taking me to Baskin-Robbins after Boy Scout meetings when I was 12. I remember just a few years ago saying “Hi” to Angelo, the owner of Danté, and having steak and fries for lunch. Can someone tell me where I can find a simple steak and fries in the Palisades?

The tortilla soup from Mayberry—so good, but that restaurant, too, had been closed for a few years before the Caruso demolition began. A classmate from St. Matthew’s, Whitney Bridge, was one of the owners.

I recall the dinners I had with my good friend, Adrian Sanders, at Just Us restaurant (before Mayberry) and talking with Cosmo the waiter. He was like a big older brother, but I never knew his full name—he was always just Cosmo.

I remember when my mom went to Michelle International for a haircut and I would walk up to Bentons to buy tennis shoes or clothing.

Who could forget Jenny at Palisades Office Products on Sunset? That store next to Santa Monica Bank was my mailing address for 20 years and home to my first business, SWAG Company. In high school, I built horse corrals in Sullivan Canyon, employing all my friends. Later, we branched out to help clean up con- struction sites.

A dear friend, Deidra Stauff, once told me that we should never get emotional about real estate, that a house is just a house—they come and go, depending on your needs. But a home is different. Your home is where you are with your family and friends.

What she said is true about Swarthmore— those buildings were just “houses.” But the street, in my mind, will always live in my memory as a home, a place where Palisades residents gathered, shopped, ate meals and met friends.

I will always have these memories of what made the Village special for me, but I am also excited that a new generation of residents will gain their own appreciation for Swarthmore.

In two years, Caruso will be opening the Bay Theater and dozens of new stores and restaurants that will restore vitality to this once special street. I can’t wait for the ribbon-cutting ceremony

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