The last business to set up shop at the Aztec Hotel came and went so fast, it likely hit the road faster than its Route 66 clientele.
In January, a store called Get Your Kicks on Route 66 opened up next door to the Aztec Barber Shop. The store specialized in souvenirs and memorabilia for Route 66 travelers, including some old Hollywood items, as detailed in Monrovia Now. The new business was also a good indication that the long dormant Aztec Hotel was springing back to life, or at least that its renovation plan was in motion.
When I spoke to store owner Bryan Gerber about a month later, he was happily in wait mode. The store wasn’t getting any business, but the Aztec would reopen in summer 2014, and the tourists would come.
The Aztec Hotel did not reopen in the summer, and the store was cleared out by May. Naturally, I wanted to speak to Gerber again, but he proved difficult to track down. He had apparently moved out of the area, and didn’t respond at any of the numerous phone numbers and e-mail addresses associated with his various business ventures.
The only hint I found was in a small claims filing at Los Angeles County Superior Court:
“Defendant failed to fix a leaking roof at our business and when it rained merchandise was damaged and we had a business loss due to closure.”
The claim, for $1,262.80, was filed May 21, and later dismissed on June 27 at Gerber’s request.
It’s easy to deduce that Gerber must have gotten satisfactory compensation, but it isn’t so clear if a leaky roof actually led to Get Your Kicks’ demise or if the Aztec Hotel’s persistent closure was a factor.
The Aztec’s dilapidated roof had been one of its biggest problems during foreclosure proceedings in 2011, but according to manager Peter Kertenian, it was one of the first things fixed under new ownership.
We may find out soon if someone else can succeed in the space. As of October, the windows of Get Your Kicks’ former storefront have been papered over.
UPDATE: A hair salon is moving into the space on November 1.
Called Mane Salon, the new business will house three stylists who currently rent space at another salon in Arcadia, according to co-owner Allycin Cappello, and their existing clientele will ensure the shop isn’t affected by the Aztec Hotel’s closure.
Negotiations to lease the space went smoothly, Cappello said, and the building’s historic status was a big plus for them.
“Once life gets put back in there, people are going to start noticing a little more,” Cappello said. “It’s going to be great for Monrovia.”