Kristy Choo was a new immigrant from Singapore in 2003 when she opened Jin Patisserie, featuring pastries and a tea garden. She initially paid rent of $3,000 a month. Over time, her rent doubled, but she could manage. Then early this year, her landlord said he wanted $40,000 a month. She told him: "No way." She moved to Culver City and is selling mostly wholesale. Kreation Kafe & Juicery, a chain franchise, filled her spot on Abbot Kinney.
Hal's opened 27 years ago when Abbot Kinney "was like a war zone," said Donald Novack, co-owner. Early on, his wife, Linda, had to step over a dead body at the restaurant's back door. "Back then, we were looking for somebody to park on the street. Now it's totally opposite."
One person pleased with the renaissance is Stephen Vitalich, an architect who has revamped many buildings on the street. "On the whole, the street is changing for the good," he said. "If some merchants get pushed out because they can't compete … that's capitalism."
Don Glunts, a real estate investor, said the upswing has been long in coming. He closed escrow on an Abbot Kinney building in 1980 and was celebrating there with a group of friends the night Sarai Ribicoff, niece of Connecticut Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, was shot just outside. So inured were people to gunfire, Glunts said, they didn't even go outside to see what had happened. Until recently, he said, "It was never really a robust street." He and his partners have leased a space to Scotch & Soda, an Amsterdam-based clothier. "They are all over Europe and wanted to come into the coolest, hippest streets in the U.S.," Glunts said.