Remembering 49 years of shopping, dining and enjoying movies at the Promenade Mall in Woodland Hills – Daily News
I felt a twinge of deja vu last Sunday as I parked my car in a ghost town that had once been the crown jewel of the Warner Center in Woodland Hills – the Promenade Mall which opened in March 1973.
It was sad, like walking into the house you fondly remember as a kid and finding a ramshackle cabin. The Promenade was our grande dame at a time when the western end of the San Fernando Valley was considered the stick.
She put us on the map in Los Angeles and now she’s just an eyesore waiting to be torn down.
I was there to meet my son for lunch at Maggiano’s Little Italy which is still open with the Corner Bakery next door. The parking lot held maybe 20 cars, a far cry from the hundreds that filled the space every weekend.
My child had the spaghetti and the meatballs. I received the check. Maggiano’s used to offer a “buy one, get one free” on a few select entrees that you could take home. It’s $5 now. When you’re selling pasta in a ghost town, every penny counts.
I had spent 25 years looking for columns in this once crowded mall a few blocks from the former Daily News building, which is now a huge apartment complex. I would have a cup of coffee, sit down and people watch. Sooner or later tomorrow’s column would pass.
Someone would help a lady with a guide dog find the store she was looking for. Or a security guard would take a lost, crying child by the hand and help find his mother. Simple stories of people doing great things we took for granted.
I thought the hard news might share some newspaper space with them.
For many people living and working on the west end of the valley, the Promenade was our hangout – the place to go to buy that last-minute birthday or anniversary present you forgot to take; a place to skip school for a few hours at AMC theaters; or just grab a bite to eat in the food court.
She had a bit of everything for everyone, but she didn’t have the one thing she needed for herself: the ability to hold time. The Promenade has aged and a new, glitzier mall has moved up the street on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, robbing all of its former customers.
Robinson’s, its flagship store 49 years ago when it was built, had already moved with Bullocks, Saks Fifth Avenue and finally Macy’s, which held until 2015.
Barnes & Noble moved in the mid-2000s, and one by one the smaller indoor stores, and most restaurants, called it a day. AMC Theaters closed in June of this year and moved to Westfield Topanga.
They all ran well, but they couldn’t do business in a ghost town. It was time to go.
Soon, the Promenade will be just another construction zone – demolished to build a training facility for the Los Angeles Rams along with commercial and residential development as well.
Only old timers will remember that she was there to help put the West End of the Valley on the map in Los Angeles when we were still considered the sticks.
She was our calling card for people looking to move west and find a little more wiggle room—affordable homes with bigger backyards and schools with grass so their kids could play, not just cement.
She brought us great shopping and quality restaurants, as well as a cool, air-conditioned place to hang out in the summer.
The Promenade was the grande dame of the Warner Center. And before the wrecking ball hits, she deserves a big hand as she leaves the stage.
Dennis McCarthy’s column airs Sunday. He can be reached at [email protected]