Proud Bird

Diners at the Proud Bird restaurant take in the view of vintage aircraft as a jet approaches for landing at LAX in the background. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / October 25, 2013)

The Proud Bird, the historic LAX restaurant that has been a hangout for some of the nation’s biggest aviation pioneers, will remain open for at least another year after the owner was able to secure a temporary new lease from the Los Angeles World Airports.

John Tallichet had announced last month that the restaurant would close, after an unsuccessful two-year effort to negotiate a new long-term lease. He said he remained hopeful a last-minute deal could save the restaurant that his father, a bomber pilot during World War II, had opened.

After an outpouring of community support, Tallichet pledged to keep the Proud Bird open until late December and Thursday evening announced he had a deal with the airport to keep the property open for at least another year while he negotiated a long-term lease.

The restaurant has a collection of 20 historic aircraft and hundreds of photographs that document the long history of aerospace in Southern California.

The biggest names in aerospace have sat at the bar and restaurant here to watch the planes land on the nearby LAX runway -- people such as Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and Neil Armstrong.

The Proud Bird has long been one of the main gathering places for the engineers, production workers and aviators of the Los Angeles aerospace industry, which is clustered around LAX. Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman all have major factories, laboratories and offices nearby.

The airport has offered some possible solutions and Tallichet said he is continuing to explore ways to reduce the expenses of a new lease. Originally, the airport wanted to boost the rent from $200,000 per year to $500,000, citing a federal law that requires it to charge market-based rent.

The new deal will cut that increase to some extent, but Tallichet said he still expects to lose money in the short term as he tries to restore his business. If he can get a long-term lease, Tallichet has said he intends to invest $1 million in upgrades to the restaurant and banquet facility.

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ralph.vartabedian@latimes.com