Bodhi Tree, Silver Spoon to be Missed in the New Year

Longtime West Hollywood institutions Bodhi Tree Bookstore and the Silver Spoon restaurant both close their doors for the last time today.

As Weho residents say goodbye to 2011, they also have to say goodbye to two long-time West Hollywood institutions.

Both the and the restaurant close their doors for the last time Saturday, Dec. 31. With their closings, they join the more than 50-year-old , which shuttered earlier this month after becoming a victim of rent increases.

In the case of Silver Spoon at 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., the . First opened in 1965 as Theodore’s, the name changed to the Silver Spoon in 1987.

Over the years, Silver Spoon has been a hangout for Hollywood actors. sometimes twice, and held all her business meetings there.

Robert Forster was a lunchtime regular. Martin Landau was seen there frequently and the late Shelley Winters used to hold court there too. Rising stars like John Ritter and Robin Williams stopped in frequently between comedy classes in the 1970s. 

The restaurant will reopen as “Connie and Ted’s,” according to a public notice sign in the window. A report released by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says the business has been sold to Chef Michael Cimarusti of the Melrose seafood restaurant Providence and Claim Jumper founder Craig Nickoloff.

No word on what type of eatery the two have planned for “Connie and Ted’s.”

Bodhi Tree

The 41-year-old Bodhi Tree Bookstore at 8585 Melrose Ave. ends a metaphysical era for West Hollywood. The property has been sold to an investor who owns other properties along that stretch of Melrose.

Meanwhile, . If that sale goes through, the new owner will have to find a new brick-and-mortar location or may opt to operate it just as an online bookstore. The store has an extensive database of customers and a well-maintained computer system.

The store’s name comes from the tree under which the young Buddha is said to have been sitting when he achieved enlightenment. 

Bodhi Tree opened on July 10, 1970, with an initial inventory of 2,000 books. At the time, books on Eastern philosophy, transcendental meditation and non-Christian religions were difficult to find. But once Bodhi Tree proved there was a market for such books, publishers began offering more titles and mainstream bookstores began carrying them.

The store had its heyday in the late 80s after actress Shirley MacLaine penned several best-selling books about her metaphysical experiences. She always credited Bodhi Tree as the place where her spiritual journey started, something that brought many new customers to the store.

For employees, the closing brings sadness, but also a sense of pride about what the store provided. Office manager Neisha Ghiatis feels the store is the spiritual heartbeat of the city.

“I just feel like the buildings and the store have this energy that’s like a heartbeat,” said Ghiatis, who has been with the store since 1978. “It pulses and it’s really all the energy that the customers have brought to us. It’s not just the material that’s here, which is fantastic and you can’t always find it everywhere, but it has been a hub for healers and teachers.”

Jim Culnan, who has worked there almost 30 years, says the work has been fulfilling and enlightening.

“I’m a Buddhist practitioner,” said Culnan, “so I’ve been able to help people find things related to Buddhist practice. That’s meant a lot to me.”

Roxana Shirandami started working there almost six years ago after being a customer since the late 1980s.

“It was always good to be a part of this place, whether as a customer or as a person who worked here—that felt always great,” Shirandami said. “It was something that wasn’t a regular job, it was something that was a part of something bigger.”

Employees say they will miss the store cat, Lucia, the fourth cat to adopt the store as its home (Chubby, Little Girl and Tara were Lucia’s predecessors). Ghiatis said she will give Lucia a new home at her house.

Employees have also been taking leaves from the giant bodhi tree behind the store as a souvenir. Ghiatis explained that a customer brought them the tree as a tiny cutting from India back in 1977. It remained in a pot until the mid-80s when they planted it in the back. Today, it has grown to about 10 feet in diameter.

They hope the new property owners will allow the tree to remain and build something around it.

“If the store is not going to be left here, at least the tree should be here for the legacy,” said Ghiatis. “You figure 41 years we’ve been at this corner, so it would be a nice homage to the store and spirituality in general.”

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