Tag Archives: renovation

Castaway Reopens for Boys and Girls Club Fundraiser After $10 Million Renovation

On Friday, April 27, popular hillside restaurant Castaway held a fundraiser, which allowed guests to see the newly renovated restaurant for the first time since its $10 million remodel. The restaurant will open to the public this Tuesday, May 1.

Photo by Ross A Benson

From 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the valley was invited to make reservations and experience the completely revitalized Castaway before it officially opens to the public this week. All profit proceeds from the community fundraiser will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley.

“We at Castaway are very lucky to be able to call Burbank our home. Our neighbors and the community in this beautiful neighborhood have always been incredibly supportive of us,” said John Tallichet, owner of Castaway.

“We wanted to do something special and give back to our neighbors as we look ahead to introducing them to the new Castaway. We can’t wait to show Burbank what we’ve cooked up, and we couldn’t think of a better way to support the local community than through the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley and the important work they do to help our youth on their path towards a great future.”

Paul Coker Beverage Director stands inside the wine room. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Along with the renovation, the restaurant now has an entirely revamped menu, with new dishes and cocktails. Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner chef Perry Pollaci will be Castaway’s executive chef while Level III Advanced Sommelier and So Cal’s Restaurant Writers Association’s “Sommelier of the Year” winner Paul Coker will head the drink department.

Castaway was originally built in 1963, premiering as one of Burbank’s first casual fine dining restaurants. After the building was burned down in 1993, it was rebuilt and remained until last year. The renovation which started August 6, 2017, involved the complete teardown and reconstruction of the Polynesian themed restaurant.

Over the years Castaway has been a popular communal space for weddings and other private events. With the building’s several new additions, it is hoped to be an even more welcoming for the community than it has been in the past.

The new seating area includes a fantastic view of the valley. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

New additions include modernized banquet rooms, a catering kitchen space, a chef’s table which is positioned for guests to see into the kitchen, a wraparound bar, a meat dry-aging room, a floor-to-ceiling wine cellar, a multi-level patio, and more. All of the former decors has also been replaced with modernized tables and seating.

The remodel was led by Regional Director Ryan Smith, who has managed several restaurants in Miami Beach and Las Vegas.

“We built a whole new dining experience where everyone feels like a star, and every seat in the house is magic. From the moment you drop your car at the valet, your evening is bound to be sexy, fun and surprising, all while enjoying deliciousness, with incomparable service in a truly stunning environment,” said Ryan Smith, Regional Director for SRC.

The view is spectacular. (Photo by Ross A Benson


Known for its impressive view of the surrounding valley, guests will notice more seating without any obstructions.

Castaway is located at 1250 E. Harvard Rd. next to the DeBell Golf Course.



Burbank Town Center Remodel Nearly Complete

This year, the $60 million renovations of the Burbank Town Center which started in January 2017 will finally be complete, with new stores, a brighter atmosphere, and a revamped food court among other refurbishments.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Visitors to the eighth largest mall in Los Angeles County have already noticed several new additions, including the renovated food court which has relocated from the third floor to the first floor. The modernized atmosphere has an improved seating area with USB compatible outlets and decorative lights.

“The new food court has a lot more seating available. It’s very spacious and it’s a lot more open. I think that’s one of the best changes they’ve made, moving the food court downstairs,“ said Atticus Bacchus, an employee of All Amusement Fun Center.

Although some restaurants have left the revitalized food court, several restaurants that were on the third level remain, such as Panda Express, Sbarro, and Mongolian Grill, which is coming soon.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“Our goal is to introduce fresh new tenants to Burbank Town Center with an eye to making the dining terrace a go-to-place when visiting Burbank,” said Lance W. Taylor, director at CAPREF Burbank LLC, who has been overseeing the renovation of the mall.

Soon, there will be an outdoor dining terrace with a view toward Verdugo and west toward the Hollywood Hills. A new outdoor escalator will carry shoppers and diners to the space which faces the shops on San Fernando Blvd.

Two new entrances into the Burbank Town Center have been added to the east and west parking garages, allowing better circulation throughout the mall.

A grand staircase leading to an entrance into the mall has been made accessible on E. Magnolia Blvd.

New skylights throughout the mall, along with LED lighting and new flooring, provide a more energetic and positive shopping atmosphere than before.

Following AMC 8’s recent theatre remodel with reclining seats, stores such as New York & Co. and Vans have also been redesigned.

Burbank Town Center is currently home to 150 retail stores and soon, Cost Plus World Market will add to that number. The 17,000 sq ft store will be located on the first floor of the mall and is said to open in June or July.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Additional changes include the relocation of See’s Candy from across the hall to provide more room for H&M, which will be located on the second and third levels. The fast fashion retailer is expected to open around summer or during the fall.

In 2017, H&M was the highest ranked fashion outlet according to Forbes America’s Best Employers and made the list of “Best Companies to Work for in Fashion” for Business of Fashion. New stores such as H&M and Cost Plus will likely benefit the local economy in providing job opportunities and better shopping experiences.

“With the $60 million mall renovation nearing completion and the addition of these new tenants, we are seeing increased activity from national and local retailers interested in calling Burbank Town Center home and we anticipate additional retailer announcements this year,” said Taylor.

Such new additions are enticing locals who are used to doing their shopping online or in other cities.

“The updates to the mall are exciting as it will bring about a much-needed change and update to the area. Many people drive to Glendale for stores like H&M and Cost Plus, so it will be great that their tax dollars will be staying here in Burbank,” said Wes Taylor, a resident of Downtown Burbank.

Although many new shops are coming to the mall, several stores that have become favorites in the community remain. LA County’s last mall arcade, the “All Amusement Fun Center” which has been in business for 24 years, has been relocated from the first floor to the third floor after it was nearly closed in 2017. In response to community outcry, owners Jim and Susan Rowton collaborated with Lance Taylor to find a suitable new location and were able to keep the arcade open while adding several new games.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

On March 3, the All Amusement Fun Center hosted a community event, allowing visitors to play games, get their faces painted, and have balloon animals made— all free of charge.

New resting stations with USB compatible outlets give shoppers downtime to sit and relax between stores. For young families, there are two new play areas which provide a chance for parents to monitor their kids as they take a break from shopping.

Recently added Tesla Superchargers are located on the top of the Burbank Town Center parking garage at 495 North Third St. The station, which allows drivers to charge their cars much quicker than at home, is among the largest in the country, with 20 public-access stalls at the rate of $0.20 per kilowatt hour.

On the third level near Sears, interactive murals were recently installed by students from Burbank High, Providencia Elementary, Brett Hart Elementary, and Jordan Middle School. The murals feature illustrations encouraging shoppers to pose and take part in the images to share on social media.

Burbank Town Center is located at 201 East Magnolia Blvd.

Renovated Stadium Brings Pride to Burbank Community

On Saturday, February 25th, I had the pleasure of attending the Dedication Ceremony to open the new Memorial Field at John Burroughs High School. The new stadium, running track, and playing field, is truly magnificent. A standing room crowd of residents, and City Officials, joined in the spirited dedication ceremony. A joint effort between the City and the School District, the planning of which began 15 years ago, this facility will be used by the students as well as the residents of Burbank.

Mayor Talamantes spoke of his High School days playing Football on the field. City Manager Flad was very funny, recalling that while a student at Burroughs, he vowed to one day tear down the stadium after Burbank was victorious in the season ending big game rivalry. Much was made of the importance of this project, originally begun by City Manager Ovrom, passed to former City Manager Alvord, and finally to current City Manager Flad. This reflects on the kind of management we’ve had in the City, with officials focused on what’s good for the community. The end result is really good. If you’re on the High School Soccer Team heading to the play-offs, or you’re an athlete like myself, trying to keep your 40 yard dash time in the 5 second range, you can’t help but to excell on this great playing field.

In a project of this magnitude, many people step forward to play a role. There was a long running fund raising effort, headed up by former Mayor Michael Hastings. Hastings, known for his great will to do things for the right reasons, secured donations from the Burbank Health Care Foundation, Burbank Priority in Education, the Walt Disney Company, and the Cusumano Real Estate Group. With a storied history in Burbank, the Cusumano family has given back to this community for decades. A close knit family, all of them are like your neighbors, grounded and sincere. How cool is it that they made a major contribution to this project. They continually work to better our community. I remember sons Michael and Charlie, carrying fond memories of their High School Football days at Memorial Field, suited up, played, and starred in a alumni Football game, something like 15 years after graduating Burroughs. Totally amazing.

Thank you to everyone who has had a hand in the rebuilding of Memorial Stadium.

As a resident I am so glad I live in Burbank.

Joe Hooven