Comedian Heather McDonald recently lamented the death of the rom-com on her popular “Juicy Scoop” podcast, citing “Your Place or Mine” and “You People” as prime examples of the genre’s downfall. She’s certainly not alone in her assessment. The two Netflix originals have been racking up horrible reviews and jeering commentary across social media and the interwebs ever since their recent debuts.
The productions have more in common than just widespread criticism, though. The flicks also share a filming location, both making use of Openaire, a strikingly unique restaurant situated inside of a greenhouse at the LINE LA hotel in Koreatown. Romantically encased in glass with a wide array of leafy plants whimsically suspended from the translucent ceiling, the eatery is a true botanical wonderland! So it is no surprise that Netflix is currently having a love affair with the place. It is undoubtedly screen-worthy!
In fact, while the Los Angeles-set “You People” utilizes some of the city’s most impressive venues, including Melrose Place’s Alfred Coffee, Skirball Cultural Center in Brentwood and the Redwood Room at Malibu’s Calamigos Ranch, Openaire is a definitive standout. It is there that Jewish broker-by-day/podcaster-by-night Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill) takes his new love interest, Black Hollywood stylist Amira Mohammed (Lauren London), on a first date, with the couple earnestly connecting despite their differing backgrounds amongst the ravishing scenery.
A relative newcomer to the L.A. restaurant scene, Openaire started life as Commissary, a vegetable-centric eatery unveiled as part of the LINE LA hotel’s much-heralded debut in 2014. It has been a go-to for filming ever since.
A longtime staple of the Koreatown skyline, LINE LA was originally established as the Sheraton-Wilshire Motor Inn in December 1965. Located at 3515 Wilshire Blvd., the Brutalist-style property was designed by Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall (DMJM), who also gifted Southern California with such oft-filmed favorites as the American Cement Building in Westlake, Pasadena’s Ambassador College and the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in Van Nuys. As noted by the L.A. Conservancy, the firm “literally changed the face of corporate architecture in the late twentieth century” with its modernist designs.
Boasting fabulous midcentury detailing, the 12-story property’s “egg crate structure,” as described by a 1965 Los Angeles Times article, was somewhat revolutionary for the time, with “stacks of cement cubes . . . each placed on top or next to another much as a small child would stack blocks,” with “the walls of these cubes forming an inter-relating system in which all interior and exterior walls help to give the building structural strength.” The Sheraton-Wilshire’s layout was also unique in that the “recreation plaza” and pool were situated not at street level but on the second floor atop a wing containing the lobby and shops. Fashioned out of steel and glass and resembling a succession of old-time television sets stacked together, the completed design brings to mind the front window of a 1950s electronics store.
Branded as an upscale business hotel, a newspaper ad from the property’s early days touted that the 410-room lodging boasted everything “keyed-up executives” would need to “unwind in style,” such as a “special” motor entrance, free parking, spacious and quiet guest rooms with ample desk space, a landscaped terrace, a “delightful dining lanai” and numerous onsite restaurants, including the Old England-themed Tudor Room and the Cafe Carnival lounge.
The lodging underwent several different incarnations in the decades following its inception before becoming LINE LA. It was operating as the Hyatt Wilshire in 1981 when George Steinbrenner famously got into a fight with two ardent Los Angeles Dodgers fans in one of the hotel elevators, leaving the New York Yankees owner with a bump on the head, a swollen lip and a broken hand. But his opponents were far worse for wear – to hear him tell it, at least. As he puffed to The New York Times the following morning, “I clocked them. There are two guys in this town looking for their teeth and two guys who will probably sue me.”
The property most recently changed hands in 2012, when it was snapped up by the Sydell Group, the hospitality team behind the Saguaro Palm Springs and the now defunct NoMad Los Angeles (currently operating as Hotel Per La). The company set about an immediate renovation, collaborating with chef Roy Choi, nightlife impresarios Mark and Jonnie Houston of Houston Hospitality, Sean Knibb of Knibb Design and MDR Architects to overhaul the site from top to bottom. The result of their combined efforts is a modernized yet minimalistic lodging heavily favoring a concrete-on-concrete aesthetic very much in line with its Brutalist origins. As Knibb told Remodelista, “We started with the concept of repurpose – use as much of the existing structure as possible, and take materials that would not usually be considered luxurious and elevate them through substitution.”
Renamed LINE LA, the revamped 388-room hotel celebrated a soft opening in January 2014 before being fully unveiled to the public later that spring. Lauded by locals and visitors alike, the lodging firmly cemented Koreatown as a bustling tourist destination, offering chic accommodations as well as a 20s-themed nightclub, a 24-hour fitness center, a salon, a pool, 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event/meeting space and four onsite eateries, including Commissary.
The light-filled restaurant, situated inside a custom-designed 1,700-square-foot greenhouse abutting the pool on the hotel’s second-level rooftop deck, was the brainchild of Choi. Offering veggie-heavy dishes, the unique menu featured drawings of various entrees and proclaimed, “There are no description words. I know, I know. Don’t freak out. Trust the pictures. And choose your own adventure. This is the experience. Point and build. And have a great time.”
When the revered chef severed ties with LINE LA in mid-2018, Josiah Citrin, who earned two Michelin stars via his esteemed Santa Monica eatery Mélisse, took over the reins, renaming the restaurant Openaire and overhauling its menu to include more California-inspired fare. The interior design was also revamped, once again courtesy of Sean Knibb, who swapped the place’s original rustic chic look for a more upscale vibe featuring mirrored tables, tailored chairs and a marble-topped bar.
Easily one of Los Angeles’ prettiest sites, it is no shock Openaire found its way to the screen.
The eatery is showcased beautifully in “You People,” with Ezra and Amira chatting at length in the cinematic confines, practically shutting the place down and ultimately sealing their romance. Sublime surroundings notwithstanding, their pairing turns out to be a match no-so-made in heaven, thanks to their equally overbearing families, who can’t help but meddle mercilessly in their lives.
Openaire is also exhibited to spectacular effect in “Your Place or Mine,” with confirmed New York bachelor Peter Coleman (Ashton Kutcher) bringing his best friend’s young son, Jack Dunn (Wesley Kimmel), to the eatery for gluten-free pancakes. While there, the two discuss “rebranding” the middle-schooler in the hopes of getting him back into the good graces of his estranged friends.
Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals), Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig), and Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey) also brunch on the premises in the season one episode of “The L Word: Generation Q” titled “Let’s Do It Again.”
And back when the restaurant was operating as Commissary, Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) dined there in the season one episode of “Insecure” titled “Messy as F*ck.”
The hotel itself is a filming location, as well, with Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) parking in front of what was then the Hyatt Wilshire in the season two episode of “Hart to Hart” titled “What Murder?”