LAX Jetsons restaurant back in business
The iconic Encounter Restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport, the real-life inspiration for the buildings of the future in the Jetsons TV cartoon of the 1960s, is set to reopen today despite the lingering scaffolds that will remain around the structure for some time.
In February, a 1,000-pound slab of plaster fell from one of the structure’s upper arches, disintegrating into hundreds of pieces as it crashed into the restaurant’s roof. Inspections found that water had been seeping into the structure’s arches for years, causing the anchors for the plaster slabs to corrode over time. City officials quickly closed the restaurant and announced a retrofit expected to take up to six months. Further inspections revealed that the damage to the internal structure of the building was more severe and widespread than original thought, including even the lower portions of at least two of the building's four arches.
While the restaurant is set to open to diners today with new paint, carpet and tables, construction will continue on the outside of the structure. Scaffolding being used to repair the exterior stucco covering of the metal-framed building will continue to limit diners' panoramic views of the airport during the remaining portions of the $10 million repair work.
Conceived in the late-1950s as the airport was transitioning into the Jet Age, the so-called Theme Building was completed in 1961 at a cost of $2.2 million. In 1992, the Los Angeles City Council designated the building as a cultural and historic monument. A $3 million upgrade in 1999 strengthened the platform’s underside and shored up the bottom of the restaurant.
Located on the Pacific coastline a short 20-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles, LAX is the largest airport on the West Coast. Covering more than 3,400 acres, it is the third-busiest airport for passenger traffic in the United States and second busiest for cargo traffic.