A few lunch cycles after about 300 employees left the iconic NBC building on Alameda Avenue for more modern digs in Universal City, the mood was upbeat for some and downcast for other business owners in the Media District on Tuesday.
Workers at local brick-and-mortar establishments that rely on the cast and crew of KNBC Los Angeles and KVEA Telemundo said they have seen a marked decline in foot traffic. But for mobile food trucks at the Pointe, just a quarter-mile away on Alameda, business was hopping.
At the El Torito Restaurant, Assistant Manager Veronica Alfaro said, “It has been in decline. We’re trying to do some local marketing, that’s what I’m in charge of right now. I’m going to businesses and churches, the cemetery.”
Across Olive Avenue at the Wienerschnitzel, Manager Sherman Areuta said they are selling fewer hot dogs.
“We’re seeing less business. A lot less. We used to be really busy around lunchtime because all of the employees from the studios. Now, I think it’s slow right now,” Areuta said.
But it’s not all bad news. At the Shell Food Mart on the corner of Olive and Alameda where regular gas was selling for $3.71 Tuesday, owner Edgar Martirosyn there are so many employees in the area, his business will do just fine.
And life was good Tuesday for food trucks, with lines at several of the mobile eateries.
“Business has only been hurt a little bit, but it is busy today,” said Junior Garcia, a worker at Rosa's Bella Cucina which is billed as “an Italian deli on wheels.”
The Greasy Weiner food truck was also doing brisk business.
And at the five-month-old Coffee Commissary next door to the Shell station, lead barista Drew Alcala said, “Every week we’ve been open we’ve seen more and more folks. Up the way we get plenty of folks from the Pointe. And Warner Bros. just down the street.”
NBC moved its operations – which includes the L.A. bureau of “NBC Nightly News,” Telemundo and the network’s local affiliates, KNBC and KVEA – to a 150,000-square-foot building near Universal Studios.
Despite the mixed bag with the lunch crowd, city of Burbank city spokesman Drew Sugars doesn’t think NBC’s leaving will spell the end of prosperity in the Media District.
“Two things were happening this week with Leno’s show moving to New York and NBC going to Universal City, but it’s a coincidence more than anything,” Sugars said.
“You could say NBC had an impact, but Warner Bros. and Disney have just as big an impact. We loved the time NBC was here. They were part of the fabric of this town. But we earned the title of Media Capital of the world through many other businesses” Sugars said.
He said although it’s sad to see NBC leave, there are others waiting in the wings to take up the slack.
“This was more about Jimmy Fallon than Burbank. There was nothing Burbank could do about that,” Sugars said. “We still have other ventures.”
Follow Tim Traeger on Twitter: @TraegerTim.
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