Yamashiro translates into "Mountain Palace" in Japanese, and Yamashiro Restaurant has been a part of the Hollywood landscape for as long as most Angelenos can remember. Looming high above the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Yamashiro boasts one of the best views of Los Angeles.
Yamashiro has a long and illustrious history. In 1911 Adolf and Eugene Bernheimer brought in hundreds of skilled craftsman to build the home and finished construction in 1914. It was designed to replicate a Japanese palace and housed the brothers' extensive Asian art collection. The home was surrounded with Japanese gardens, and the terraced hillside included 30,000 varieties of plants and trees. The grounds were dotted with waterfalls, ponds, goldfish, and a zoo that was home to exotic birds and monkeys.
After one of the brothers died in 1922, most of the artwork was auctioned off, but the property survived as a popular gathering spot for the Hollywood elite.
After World War II, a builder bought the property and turned it into a 15 unit apartment complex. Following years of neglect, Thomas O. Glover, purchased the property in 1948. His intent was to tear down the property and build a hotel and apartments on the 7-acre property, but after discovering the ornate woodwork and silk wallpaper hidden under layers of plywood and decades old paint, he decided to restore the property to its former glory.
In the early 1960s Yamashiro Restaurant was born, and was owned and operated by Thomas O. Glover's son, Thomas Y. Glover. For over fifty years the restaurant has been the home to numerous weddings, engagements, wrap parties, and corporate buyouts. Its CalAsian cuisine is second only to the stunning view of the city below.
My first visit to Yamashiro Restaurant was sometime in the mid 1990s, and since then it has become one of my favorite Hollywood dining spots. As a performing member of The Magic Castle, which is located directly below Yamashiro, it was an easy drive up the hill to enjoy a drink and the fabulous view. On several occasions I was actually hired to perform for special groups who were having a private event at the restaurant, and for many years my good friend, Steve Wastell, was the magic bartender at Yamashiro. I enjoyed many nights watching him perform his special brand of magic behind the bar.
In March of this year the Bejing company, JE Group, reportedly purchased the property for around 40 million dollars, and now the fate of Yamashiro is in jeopardy. Thomas Y. Glover has reportedly stated that the restaurant will most likely close its doors by mid-June.
I'll have to pay one more visit before the magic is gone and the doors close forever. Maybe the new owners will keep the tradition alive, but only time will tell. I'll be there tonight to enjoy a meal and the amazing view.
Yamashiro is located at 1999 N. Sycamore Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90068
(About The Author: Lou Serrano is a professional Los Angeles magician, and is available to entertain at social and corporate events world-wide. He's also a performing member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA.)