Longtime shop owners prepare for Silver Lake shopping center shake up

Barber Tony Cornejo talking about moving out of Silver Lake shopping center

When his former landlord announced plans to demolish the building, barber Tony Cornejo went looking for a new location,  taking over an existing barbershop in a Silver Lake shopping center. That was more than 30 years ago, and  Tony’s Barber Shop has been in the same Glendale Boulevard shopping center ever since. But this year finds Cornejo preparing to move his six-chair shop to Cypress Park as apparently the shopping center – which also houses a Ralphs market, CVS drugstore and KFC – prepares for major change.  Cornejo and some other longtime tenants of the Silverlake Shopping Center said leases are not being renewed past this year, and there is talk of rebuilding or overhauling the property. “This location is perfect – we hate to go,” said Cornejo, whose lease is expires in September.

The shopping center is a bit dated but remains a tidy and busy place, with a combination of chain stores – including a Starbucks and Winchell’s –  and independent businesses – Wong’s Wok Chinese Food and 20 DVD – drawing a steady stream of customers that keeps the parking lot full.  But there have been some unsettling signs.  For example, two of the chain tenants – Straw Hat Pizza and Baskin Robbins – have closed and there spaces have remained vacant.  The management company has balked at updating expensive phone equipment and surveyors have been seen on the property, said  tenants.

The Eastsider has contacted Western Realty, which manages the center, and Ralphs for comment but has not heard back.

Next door to Tony’s Barber Shop, Ara Simonian, owner of Silverlake Salon, said his store, which opened in 1980, is on a month-to-month lease. While last year’s sales were the worst since he’s been open, Simonian said his location is convenient to many customers, including the many commuters who stop by on their way to and from work downtown. Simonian said it’s been difficult to determine the fate of the center, making it difficult to plant ahead.  “Nobody knows whats’ going to happen,” he said.

Back at Tony’s Barber Shop, Cornejo said he has no choice but to prepare to move but would be interested in returning if the offer was ever made.  He lives near the center and said finding a comparable location in Silver Lake is impossible. “I do want to come back.”


  1. Regular Josephine

    Western Realty are terrible neighbors. The back of their property (bordering Silver Lake Blvd) is unmaintained, dark, dirty, and smelly. It is not uncommon to see people passed out between the fence and the sidewalk (still on Western’s property).

    I’m really surprised that anyone would think the business side of the property is “tidy” It’s filthy, decrepit and an eyesore. I would rather have the trailer park back.

  2. I also have to balk at the use of the word “tidy” to describe this shopping center. Gelsons is tidy, Vons is tidy, Albertsons is tidy…this shopping center is tidy like the Barnsdall Center.

    I feel bad for bad for Mr Cornejo (have never been in his shop but it looks like a solid/nice place for a hair cut)….but have to say would be glad to see a major overhaul of that center.

  3. I have a hunch that the owners of the property will attempt to build a mixed-use development in its place with commercial businesses on the ground level and residential on the second (and third? Fourth?) stories. Just a hunch; time will tell.

  4. When I moved to L.A. 6 years ago, the first barber I went to was Tony’s Barber Shop and I got the worst hair cut of my life. There were holes all over the place or hair sticking out in other places. Needless to say I never went back.

    • When I moved to Silver Lake nine years ago, the first barber I went to was Tony’s Barber Shop and I got the best hair cut of my life. Needless to say I’ve never gone anywhere else, but it ooks like I’ll be heading to Cypress Park once they move. So much for keeping my silver in Silver Lake.

  5. The only thing that should improve on is the exits to that place, i wish there was a traffic light on one of the exits, so i can exit faster , rather than dodge cars.

  6. The best thing I ever saw in that shopping center was a beat-up old backpack that was full and unattended with an electrical cord running out of it to an outlet by the payphone. Not suspicious at all…

  7. The pedestrian entrance to this plaza is abysmal… if they redevelop, I hope it’s to the curb with the parking lot tucked behind (with front and back entrances) and a new traffic signal so pulling in and out is less of a nightmare for cars on Glendale.

    • Also, I wish landlords who redevelop were required by the city to give first dibs on retail leases to current tenants — it just sucks to keep losing small businesses that have invested here for years to johnny-come-lately developers.

  8. Multi-story mixed use would be a blessing. Strip mall-type developments with surface parking are ugly, out of date examples of poor land use policy.

  9. Oh crap, I don’t want to see 20/20 video go 🙁
    It’s the only local video rental house with an extensive blu ray selection.


    Anyone know the next closest video rental that has a sizable blu ray selection that 20/20 has?

    My guess is that they will allow the big stores/franchises (Ralphs, CVS, KFC, Starbucks) to stay open and work around them/accommodate. They can’t afford to lose those tenants nor their rental income.

    The little guys will be kicked out and no doubt they wouldn’t be able to afford the new higher lease rates post-remodel anyway….

  10. Does anyone remember when Rainbow Records had their store there – on the left side of the shopping center, near the KFC? In later years, they changed their name to Rockaway Records and moved to the right side of the shopping center, to the right of the supermarket (I think it was a Market Basket at the time). Then they moved to the location on Glendale Blvd. where the coffeehouse is, I think, and then across the street to their current location.

    • YES ! finally a neighborhood old schooler like me ! RAINBOW! awesome ……

    • Yes, I remember the first Rockaway in the shopping center – I used to buy a lot of records there. One day around 1987 Marty offered to give me a copy of the Guns & Roses album “Appetite for Destruction” with the Robert Williams cover. He found it offensive and didn’t want to have it in his store. I figured it was some kind of character test – and not being a fan of the band anyway – I turned it down.

  11. I remember Market Basket. Gosh, when was that?

    I remember Rockaway being in the coffee house, but not in the main shopping center.

  12. I used to go into this shopping center to visit the Chinese takeout. but the traffic and parking is a night mare. Just tear it down quickly and rebuild it without taking 2 or 3 years leaving it empty, as is generally the case. In china they can build a skyscraper in 36 hours.But they dont have neighborhood squabbing, planning committees or unions gumming up the process.

  13. In China that skyscraper will come tumbling down in the first bad earthquake.
    But not after they had forcibly bulldozed everyone’s houses where the skyscraper now stands.

    Or, if no earthquake hits, a bad fire will probably do them in.

    Oh, and don’t breath the air or eat the food or drink the water either.

    Yeah, I’m moving to China right now!

  14. I avoid that Ralphs at all cost. Last time I was there the girl attending the hot food counter sneezed on the food & then asked me what I wanted. Yum!

  15. Yes!! Rainbow records was awesome! good memories.

  16. Oh my god what about Starbucks?

  17. I love Tony’s, but the center is a mess. It’s outdated, ugly, parking and foot access are terrible, but it is convenient. I would hope they could somehow maintain the independent businesses while renovating, but that seems unlikely.

  18. Remember when Charlie Chaplain filmed movies where the Ralph’s now stands?

    Who’s old school now?

  19. I agree completely with Regular Josephine. We live directly behind the Ralphs (since 1994) and would love to see things cleaned up!! We have dealt with all the riff raff, drug dealing, people living in their beat-up crappy campers, etc., right in front of our house. I’ve complained to the property management and they do nothing. So, we would welcome any positive change!

    • Hopefully they will rebuild it so it faces Glendale with storefronts (or at least sides towards Glendale) and accommodates parking better (like underground) so you guys no longer have to deal with the back of the hulking buildings and all that that entails. Maybe you will be lucky and it will have some sort of residential component that will be oriented/access towards the S.L. Blvd as long as it’s not too many stories.

  20. This is the worst shopping mall ever. It’s fucking disgusting, horrendous. That CVS is something out of Dante’s Inferno. That Ralphs – I’d rather go to a liquor mart in Tijuana instead. I only go to the shopping center if I fall off the wagon and need KFC.

    • Geez, where are you guys used to shopping? Beverly Hills? That’s my CVS, pharmacy used to be 24-hour, not sure if it still is. It’s easy enough to get in there, and even easier to get out. I usually only go to Starbucks and CVS, but occasionally the Chinese place and sometimes Ralph’s. Just because it’s a place I know I can count on, of course it’s going to be changed/destroyed. Oh well. They’ll drive out the mom & pops and put in more chain stores you can pay more in. Progress. Peh.

  21. I was in Mr. Cornejo’s shop just the other day where I get my hair cut from one of his “quieter” assistants. For the record, Tony is the biggest jerk in town. He treats his co-workers customers with an astonishing amount of disrespect. Beyond rude. I always tip big because I feel so bad for the guy who cuts my hair. Tony treats him like dirt.

    Anyway, Tony was going on and on about this upgrade and bad mouthing the City Council, the Mayor and everyone under the sun involved. He thinks he will be invited back. Think again dude. Get comfortable in Cypress Park.

  22. Does Tony’s Barber Shoppe have a stack of Playboy and Penthouse magazines like all the old men’s barber shoppes had back in the day?

  23. Thank god.

    Please make the corner appealing and stack the place overall with a balance of quick and quality places. Nothing snooty, just not shit across the board.

    Also think about the area when designing. The car wash is a riverside special. we don’t need more stucco boxes with the lipstick on a pig approach.

  24. One of the shop owners there told me today that they’d be tearing everything down and building underground parking and a new shopping center, including a new Ralph’s and Starbucks. He said KFC is moving out next month. Should start at the end of this year. We shall see!

  25. Long time coming. The neighborhood lacks a large, good, up-to-date supermarket with lots of selection. That Ralph’s will do quite well once it’s updated because of all the people, like me, who have to schlep over to Albertsons or up to Glendale.

  26. Darn… I was just going past today on the bus and thinking how amazing that the KFC, Winchell’s, and Baskin Robbins have been continuously operating there all my LIFE. My first job was at Rockaway; I started about a month after they moved up the street (and the new place was ALREADY too small for them!). I remember when Market Basket became Hughes, and now Hughes is Ralphs.

    Mixed-use with buried parking would be an improvement, certainly, but the lot is an odd shape, so I hope they got a *good* architect to design it, or it’s just not going to work. But, I’ll miss the old place… lots of memories there! I used to *rule* the pinball machine at Round Table (which hasn’t been Straw Hat since… gosh, legwarmers?)

  27. Tony is my Barber, I was next to him when he got a call from the property owner.
    Yes, this will be a mega project to last for about a year. K F C is now closed.
    All will leave the center in Sept. The land merits something up to date .
    What is there now is a relic from the 60’s. Let the future roll in.

  28. it’s sad to see mom and pop places like KFC and CVS getting run out by the man

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