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McDonald's in Pickle Over New Hollywood Blvd. Site

February 22, 1987|KENNETH J. FANUCCHI | Times Staff Writer

Meant to recapture the glitter of Hollywood's movie land past, McDonald's newest and most expensive restaurant may have too much glitz for the city's tastes, even for flashy Hollywood Boulevard.

Designed with a mixture of Moorish, Egyptian and Art Deco styles, the building's plans feature huge golden arches towering over the sidewalk and a 25-foot-long curved message board similar to the one in New York's Times Square.

Robert Goldfarb, the restaurant's co-owner, said the design is unusual for a McDonald's restaurant but reflects the company's desire to contribute a unique building to Hollywood's resurgence.

"We wanted to do something special as part of the effort to upgrade Hollywood Boulevard," Goldfarb said. "So we went with a design that captured the essence of Hollywood's glorious past. The last thing we expected was opposition from the city."

The opposition came from the city Building and Safety Department, which ruled last month that the proposed golden arches, message board and other signs do not conform to city ordinances. The proposed signs are either too large or they would extend too far from the building, said the department's Richard E. Becker.

"We are dealing with a whole series of issues, including some, such as the message (board), that are not spelled out in the city's sign ordinance," Becker said. "In the eight months that the department has been ruling on departures from the sign ordinance, this case is the most unusual."

An appeal of the department's ruling will be heard by the Building and Safety Commission on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Room 109 of the Van Nuys Airport Administration Building, 6950 Havenhurst Ave., Van Nuys.

In Goldfarb's corner will be Councilman Michael Woo, who wrote a letter to the commission in support of the signs, and the Community Redevelopment Agency. The agency, which is administering the $922-million redevelopment of Hollywood, not only supports McDonald's but also had a large hand in designing the 15-foot-by-17-foot golden arches that would sit cockeyed atop the restaurant.

"We had a much more sedate sign, a verticle design that looked like a movie marquee," Goldfarb said. "But the CRA people suggested we try something more lively and provided us with a drawing. We incorporated their suggestion almost exactly as they drew it up."

Diana Webb, director of the Redevelopment Agency's Hollywood project, acknowledged that the agency made suggestions on the sign, but only because the city Cultural Affairs Commission objected to McDonald's previous design.

'We Have Problems'

Although Goldfarb liked the change in the sign, he said he was concerned that getting it approved would be a problem. "We were told by the CRA staff there would be no problems," Goldfarb said. "Now we have problems."

Webb said difficulties are common in gaining city approval for something that does not fit easily into city regulations. "There are procedures to get approval and that is basically what we are going through now," she said.

Goldfarb said the restaurant, which cost $3 million and is scheduled to open next month, will have a visitor's center inside.

"The restaurant will be the most expensive . . . in the entire chain," he said.

Because of the area's seediness, Goldfarb said he will employ several "bruisers" recruited from local body-building gyms to keep the peace. "They will be our dining room managers," he said.

The new McDonald's at 6776 Hollywood Blvd. will be the seventh operated by the Goldfarb family. Robert and his brother Ron are partners in the operation with their father, Morris, and Richard Blade. Morris, 80, started in the business in 1956 when he opened a McDonald's on La Tijera Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport.

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