Benton Decides Against Reopening at Caruso

The Status of Maison Giraud Still Unclear

By JOHN HARLOW and CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA

Much to the disappointment of many, Bob Benton will not be returning to Swarthmore when it reopens as Palisades Village this summer.

In a letter from the sports entrepreneur, published exclusively on Page 2 of this week’s edition of the Palisadian-Post, Benton explained he is a huge supporter of Rick Caruso, who worked hard to win him back to reopen Benton’s on Sunset Boulevard—but “every dog has its day.”

Last week Benton sent a personal letter to developer Caruso, thanking him for the opportunity and the support his team (including Rick Lemmo and Michael Gazzano) offered.

Bob Benton
Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Above all, Benton did not want anyone to misinterpret his decision as anything but full-hearted support for the project, which he is looking forward to witnessing grow over the next few years.

“This has been a very difficult decision, one that I have agonized over for more than two years,” he wrote. “I love this town, and I loved being part of the Palisades retail community and owning one of the last family-owned sporting goods stores on the planet.

“This is a very emotional letter for me because I know it’s over, it’s in print.”

Benton, alongside chef Alain Giraud, proprietor of beloved French bistro Maison Giraud, were the only tenants expected to transfer their businesses from the previous run-down shops on Swarthmore to Caruso’s low-rise homage to small town Americana.

They have been viewed as the carriers of the torch, part of a legacy to be passed on to a new generation of retailers reflecting the changing profile of the Palisades.

Last year Giraud said he hoped to reopen the bistro but that now seems less certain.

On Monday, Feb. 5, with the clock running toward the opening, the acclaimed chef told the Post he still could not confirm whether he was returning.

“We’re still in a confidential agreement so it is nothing we can talk about yet,” Giraud said. “Nothing definitive.”

If he does not return, fans of Giraud think they know why.

“It became too complicated and he had too many offers elsewhere that did not come with the headaches of running a business,” a former business associate said. “But he still hopes friends will remember good nights at Maison Giraud and toast him once in a while.”

Caruso has now announced 17 of around 42 businesses at the project, although nearly all the space is leased or under discussion. It is slated to open in fewer than 200 days.

Already the outline of stores alongside Sunset Boulevard and the Caruso-owned apartments above them are becoming rapidly visible.

The name of a new street that will run west to east through the development, which has to be approved by the city, is also due to be announced soon.

The community remains excitedly curious about which tenant will be announced next.

Especially, according to social media, the all-important family burger joint.