This story first appeared in the Jan. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For the Hollywood Reporter's 2014 Power lunch survey, 250 top industry players -- studio heads, A-listers and big-time producers -- have weighed in on one of the industry's constant obsessions: where to eat lunch. The result is THR's second annual ranking of the top 25 L.A. restaurants where relationships are forged, deals are done and checks are fought over.
THR inaugurated its invite-only Power Lunch Survey in 2013, with the No. 1 spot going to Soho House in West Hollywood. This year, Soho House comes out on top again but the rest of the landscape has shifted. While Pizzeria Mozza has jumped from 19 to 12, Studio City's Katsu-ya dropped from 11 to 23. Seven restaurants dropped off this year's list, including Son of a Gun and Cafe Gratitude. They made way for newcomers including AOC and Hinoki & the Bird (which jumped the highest in its debut to No. 11)
THR's Power Lunch survey respondents represent a cross-section of the top executives in the field, including Disney Media Networks co-chairman and Disney/ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney, Shine America CEO Rich Ross, Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore, E! Entertainment president Suzanne Kolb, attorney Ken Ziffren and manager Peter Principato.
What most restaurants on the list have in common isn't adventurous cuisine, though. The survey's voters over and over cited location, quick service, staff that knows their names and even free valet when choosing where to lunch. This predilection for comfort and ease explains the presence on the list of so many tried-and-true mainstays (such as Chateau Marmont and La Scala) as well as unassuming more casual spots (like South Beverly Grill and Joan's on Third.)
When it comes down to it, says Principato, "It's convenience."
And for those who are stuck in a lunch rut, THR recommends 10 new spots to try out right now, from Santa Monica's Blue Plate Taco (where Electus chairman Ben Silverman is an investor) to West Hollywood's fancified seafood shack Connie & Ted's.