ULI Los Angeles: StimULI Panel - Al Fresco Dining During and Beyond COVID-19


2020-09-23T08:00:00 - 2020-09-23T09:30:00

Choose Your Calendar

    Learn what cities, developers and restaurants are doing to help the restaurant industry and Main Streets survive amidst, and even thrive despite, the impacts of COVID-19. Hear from experts on both short and long-term effects of social distancing protocols and how present & future urban design and policies can be beneficial to the urban fabric and streetscapes. Insights will be shared and discussed amongst panelists from these different vantage points, as well as what to expect with Al Fresco 2.0 and the evolving urban fabric.


    Shannon Heffernan
    Urban Design Director,
    Studio One Eleven

    Shannon is Studio One Eleven’s Urban Design Director and leads their Urban Design Practice, which is focused on the revitalization and transformation of cities. For the past 13 years, she has worked with cities and community groups to revitalize and enhance their districts, public spaces and celebrated places through visioning, design, and placemaking projects.
    These efforts have included collaborations between cities, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Community-based Organizations (CBOs), non-profits, and developers – and a robust outreach approach to ensureall stakeholders are being given a voice and providing input.

    Aja Beard
    Principal Consultant/Founder,
    Ask Aja Restaurant Consulting

    Aja Beard is a native Angeleno and a UNLV Rebel.  She has been in the Hospitality Industry for 26 years and has spent the last 18 years managing and opening new restaurants.  Her experience ranges from fine dining to quick service, catering, banquets, food trucks and even cottage food licensing.  In Jan 2019 she started her own Restaurant Consulting company, Ask Aja Restaurant Consulting, to provide restaurateurs the fundamentals for long term success.  
    After graduating from UNLV with her Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration, Aja spent 14 years in Las Vegas working for some of the most prestigious companies on and off the strip.  She assisted with opening the fine-dining restaurant "Sensi" at the Bellagio Hotel & Resort.  She was the Hotel Manager at the RioAll-Suite Hotel and Casino and later the Food Service Director for United Healthcare's corporate cafe and catering with Aramark and Compass.  While living in LA she opened "Boca", a fine-dining restaurant at The Conga Room in LA Live and was the General Manager of The Lab Gastropub, part of USC Hospitality.  She most recently assisted owners Kim Prince and Greg Dulan with opening Hotville Chicken in the Crenshaw community.  This restaurant has quickly become one of LA's hottest new eateries serving up authentic Nashville Hot Chicken from a 90-year-old recipe.  

    Jennifer McDowell
    Associate Director of Infrastructure,
    City of Los Angeles

    Jennifer Pope McDowell is Associate Director of Infrastructure for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. As a senior-level policy analyst, she oversees key programs and projects within the Department of Public Works, specifically related to the Bureaus of Engineering, Contract Administration, and StreetsLA. Since joining the Mayor’s Office in 2015, she has focused on public right-of-way design, use, and management to create a more equitable and sustainable built environment and foster community ownership of public space.
    Jennifer is a graduate of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and holds a B.A. from Occidental College and a Master of Architecture from Woodbury University.

    Jennifer McLain Hiramoto
    Deputy Director of Economic Development,
    City of Glendale

    Jennifer Hiramoto joined the City of Glendale in 2015, and serves as Deputy Director of Community –Economic Development. In this capacity, she is responsible for overseeing the Economic Development Division's strategic planning efforts, with an emphasis on business services, attraction, community outreach, and asset management.
    Jennifer joins the team with 10 years in economic development experience, and five years in the private sector as a newspaper reporter.

    Thomas Small
    Culver City

    Thomas Aujero Small serves on the City Council of Culver City and was the Mayor of Culver City in 2018/2019. He is also the CEO of Culver City Forward, a new non-profit, non-partisan organization, a public-private partnership between the city, business and the larger community, to help Culver City achieve what the city administration can’t accomplish on its own. The short film, Culver City Forward Motion sets forth a vision for the future of Culver City.
    Councilmember Small is also the Chair of the LA METRO Sustainability Council and serves on the Transportation Committee of the Southern California Association of Governments. He is the Vice-Chair and founding board member of the renowned concert series, Jacaranda Music. He lives with his wife Joanna Brody, and their two children and two giant sheep dogs in the Residence for A Briard, a home designed to host chamber music concerts.

    Barbara Romero
    Deputy Mayor of City Services,
    City of Los Angeles

    Born and raised in Boyle Heights, Barbara Romero was appointed Deputy Mayor of City Services in March 2015. She oversees the work of 15 departments, including Public Works, DOT, RAP, and DWP. She steers key mayoral priorities, including improved mobility, equitable access to parks and recreation, purposeful aging, revitalization of the LA River, and safer, cleaner streets.

    She previously served on the Board of Public Works and Planning Commission. A lifelong Dodgers fan, Barbara lives in the San Fernando Valley with her son, Brady, and dog, Sammy.

    Jean Paul Wardy
    Chief Executive Officer and Founder,
    CenterCal Properties LLC

    Jean Paul Wardy began his career in real estate while attending the University of Southern California. Mr. Wardy joined theAlexander Haagen Company in 1990, and by 1993 had been promoted to Vice President, Acquisitions. From 1993 through 1998, Mr. Wardy was the executive primarily responsible for the successful acquisition of over 20 shopping centers.
    In 1998, Mr. Wardy co-founded CenterOak Properties with Fred Bruning, which became CenterCal Properties in 2004. Since that time, Mr. Wardy has committed his efforts toward creating successful retail driven projects that both enhance and elevate the communities they serve.