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The impending closure of historic Hollywood restaurant Yamashiro is causing a whole lot of wedding heartache for prospective newlyweds, according to the owner of the picturesque haunt, a favorite since the 1960s for outdoor events due to its scenic gardens and sweeping view of Los Angeles.
“We had something like 30 weddings scheduled on site at the time of sale,” says Thomas Y. Glover, referencing his extended family’s transaction with JE Group, a Beijing hospitality firm that closed a $40 million deal for the seven-acre compound in March. (Glover, who has leased the property from a family trust, had not wanted to leave.) “You can imagine when the brides found out we were going to be evicted, they panicked, coming to us in tears and totally distraught.”
He claims 15 nuptials are still up in the air as a result of a subsequent court case that was filed between the two parties over terms of Yamashiro’s lease, which had been set to rise fourfold to as much as $100,000 per month — an amount Glover insists is “just undoable.” (The next hearing in the matter is set for May 5 in L.A. Superior Court.) This legal dispute has put in doubt an orderly transition of ownership to a new operator.
As a result, Glover notes that he and his wife, Jane, are offering their Spanish-style home (designed by noted architect Roland Coate) near the Huntington Library in San Marino for any displaced nuptial events. “We made the decision that anyone who has a wedding in May, June and into early July would have a very difficult time finding an alternate location,” he says, noting that so far four couples have come to look at his home.
For its part, JE blames Glover’s intransigence in resolving negotiations for the tumult over the weddings, explaining in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter that it’s “made every reasonable, legal attempt to work with its current operator in an ongoing or transitional capacity to insure minimum impact to current employees and third-party customers. It is our hope that we will be allowed to honor the property’s legacy and accommodate existing contracts once permitted to do so.”
The hilltop mansion in Hollywood Heights that houses Yamashiro was completed in 1914 as the home for the Asian art collection amassed by two German-Jewish brothers, Adolph and Eugene Bernheimer, who were silk importers. After they sold the property in 1922, for a time it became the 400 Club, an early film industry hangout frequented by the likes of Fatty Arbuckle.
The property, which now features a koi pond and a 600-year-old pagoda, was vandalized during World War II as anti-Japanese sentiment rose. (Rumors circulated at the time that the property was a signal tower.)
Glover’s father, Thomas O. Glover, purchased the property in 1948, but ownership has been with a large family trust for decades. It’s been a durable presence onscreen, appearing in I Spy and Perry Mason in its early years and Gone in 60 Seconds and Memoirs of a Geisha in more recent ones.
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Jamie Lee Curtis